Yale GrassX Competition Invites
Student Support for Native Pollinators

west campus grasslands
Courtesy of Yale West Campus
The Yale Landscape Lab and the F&ES–based Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative (UHPSI) have partnered for GrassX — a new Experimental Grassland Competition that invites Yale students to explore ideas to promote grassland management systems, native pollinators, and local ecosystems.
 
Competing teams from across Yale will design and implement a scalable management system that supports native pollinators and local ecosystems. The competition will take place on a series of plots on Yale’s West Campus throughout the 2017 growing season.
 
Proposals are due Feb. 24, with the winning project selected in November.

Apply here
We are posing teams with a problem and giving them an opportunity to build a possible solution.
— Justin Freiberg ’10 M.E.Sc., Yale Landscape Lab
GrassX is the first partnership between Ucross, which promotes landscape-scale stewardship practices in the American West, and the Yale Landscape Lab, which provides access to the 136-acre West Campus in support of student and faculty projects from across Yale.

“We are posing teams with a problem and giving them an opportunity to build a possible solution,” said Justin Freiberg ’10 M.E.Sc., Director of the Yale Landscape Lab. “We want to provide space for students to apply creative land management practices and research methods to local problems, which can also be applied elsewhere.”

The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative is science-based research program focused on land stewardship in the American West. The harsh environment of the High Plains poses a number of management challenges to keep the land healthy and productive. Many pollinator species, both locally and globally, are threatened or disappearing.
 
Ucross provides opportunities for Yale students, including those at F&ES, to design and share land management plans with businesses and conservation groups, said Charlie Bettigole, Program Director of UHPSI. Many students do just that during summer research projects.
 
“Our partnership provides a rare opportunity to design management strategies and then implement and monitor change,” he said. “One of the great benefits of this competition is that it will provide a platform where students can see that whole process.”
Our partnership provides a rare opportunity to design management strategies and then implement and monitor change.
— Charlie Bettigole, Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative
Selected for optimal pollinator habitat, soil health, invasive species management, and scale-up potential, the winning team will receive travel expenses to visit a U.S. stewardship or land management ecosystem of their choice and the opportunity to present their plan to regional land trusts. They will also have a chance to bring their project to scale on West Campus.
 
Although growing conditions in Connecticut will determine specific research outcomes, organizers say the students’ hands-on experience can be applied to landscape plans and grassland research in other parts of the world.
 
“A stand of grasses is so much more approachable and more easily manipulated than a stand of trees, said William Lauenroth, a professor in the practice and grasslands ecologist at F&ES. “In terms of experience in vegetation management, this is a great opportunity for students.”
 
To apply to GrassX 2017 by Feb. 24, click here. Students are also encouraged to attend information sessions on Monday, Feb 13, between 1 and 2 p.m., and Friday, Feb. 17 between 12 and 1 p.m., in the Ucross office, 8A, Sage Hall, 205 Prospect Street, New Haven.
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PUBLISHED: February 10, 2017
 

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