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Tallgrass Creek Resident Elna Ponto Helps to Preserve America's Prairies in Overland Park, KS

04-13-2011 05:44 PM CET | Energy & Environment

Press release from: Tallgrass Creek

OVERLAND PARK, KS (April 13, 2011) – Tallgrass Creek resident Elna Ponto has been interested and actively involved in preserving nature and protecting the environment for many years. She is a member of the National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. Ponto previously lived in Minnesota, where she developed an interest in prairie preservation, a project that she says really ignited her passion for protecting nature.

“There is something different about working with prairie restoration,” Ponto says. “People who really get into it say it’s more of a spiritual experience because it’s your history, and you are developing a sustainable environment that all balances together.”

When Ponto decided to move to the Kansas City area to be closer to family, she was particularly excited to be living in close proximity to some of the last remaining acres of natural tallgrass prairie in the U.S. What she didn’t know was that she would have the opportunity to work to preserve and restore the natural Midwest landscape in such a meaningful way.

Ponto is one of the leaders of Tallgrass Creek’s resident-run nature club. The group of about 55 environmentally-minded residents work on a variety of projects throughout the year. Ponto says a great deal of their effort is dedicated to incorporating indigenous prairie plants like tallgrass and Indian grass into Tallgrass Creek’s landscaping.

The group’s prairie project isn’t just about making Tallgrass Creek’s “backyard” even more beautiful—although it accomplishes that as well. In fact, the club has partnered with the woodshop committee, whose members have built bird houses to attract bluebirds to the prairie grass area. And this spring, the woodshoppers plan to build benches so residents can sit outside and admire the miniature nature preserve built by their neighbors. But for Ponto and other native Midwesterners who are concerned about the loss of the region’s natural grasses, the project also holds a deeper meaning.

“In all of North America, only 4% of that original prairie is left,” Ponto says. “That is our heritage.”

The nature club also organizes day trips that are open to all residents. In the past, they’ve visited the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, the Overland Park Arboretum, and the Ernie Miller Nature Center, an area in Johnson County known for good bird watching. Ponto says the day trips have been a big hit with residents, and the club intends to plan similar excursions this year.

“People who move here from other states especially like our field trips because they can really get to know Kansas,” Ponto says.

The club also arranges for local experts to come to Tallgrass Creek to speak about various environmental topics. And, Ponto says, they periodically organize special events to educate residents about nature and preserving the environment. The club is planning a celebration for Earth Day in April that will be open to the entire community.

For Ponto, being involved with the nature club not only provides her with the opportunity to socialize and work together with her friends and neighbors, but she says it also gives her a purpose.

“I am the kind of person who likes to have a cause to work on,” she says. “It is nice because I always thought at this age you didn’t get involved in new things.”

###

Tallgrass Creek, which has more than 200 residents, is a continuing care retirement community in Overland Park, KS. It is managed by Erickson Living.

Mel Tansill
Public Affairs Manager
Tallgrass Creek
13800 Metcalfe Avenue
Overland Park, KS 66223
Cell: 410-241-7614
Email: Mel.Tansill@Erickson.com

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