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Biology Students Restore Native Plants

October 18, 2017

Assistant Professor Wendy Ridenour’s Biology 101 class recently engaged in a hands-on service learning project.

Weed Pull
Wendy Ridenour works with her Biology 101 students to identify and remove invasive plant species during their recent service-learning project.

The students removed invasive weeds and then applied a native seed mix to disturbed areas adjacent to the “M” trail.

The native plant seed mix was selected based upon plant sampling conducted by Ridenour’s Plant Systematics classes over the last two years, and contains native plants including grasses and flowering forbs.

Native Seed Mix
The native seed mix was carefully applied the day after the weeds were removed from areas around the “M” trail system.

The project is the culmination of over two years of work by three Montana Western Biology classes.

The students in the course were excited to help the community by restoring the plants around the trail system in disturbed areas that allow non-native species to invade the native plant communities.

Weed Pull
Montana Western students work together to restore the native plant community.

“We learned a lot about sage steppe ecosystems, and I liked being able to see this project unfold. I can’t wait to see the progress this spring,” said student Anne Alseth.

Sage Steppe
A view of the sagebrush steppe plant ecosystem and neighboring plant communities. Students in the course learned about several ecosystem types.

According to Ridenour, it’s crucial to get students out into the field so they can experience and learn things on a deeper level.

“By being immersed in their local natural surroundings, students are able to more directly apply the knowledge they’ve gained about the roles of native plants and the damage that can be caused by invasive weeds to real-world ecological communities,” she said.

UMW student removes weed
A weed is carefully removed to make room for the native seed mix.

This hands-on service learning project is one of many examples of how Experience One provides experiential learning opportunities for students while they take a single course at a time and learn by doing.

For more information about Experience One and the University of Montana Western, or to schedule a visit, visit or call 877-683-7331.