today. While that might not seem unusual, until recently I considered MSU's campus to be the most biologically dead campus I've ever seen.
The transformation in the past two years is phenomenal. After decades of nothing
but concrete, lawn, and landscaping that is so controlled and lifeless as to be not worth the time - there are crickets and cicadas singing on these hot August days! Birds flying about. And several types of butterflies!
During the past two or three years MSU planted several varieties of native plants, especially in the area surrounding the Foster Recreation Center. What originally was just more lawn and concrete and sterile landscaping is now alive with native grasses and forbs!
In the past, if you walked through this area you would not hear much in the way of insect sounds, or see many birds. Today, as I strolled through campus my ears were surrounded by the songs of cicadas, crickets, and birds. I saw three species of butterflies nectaring on the flowers.
Where once bland and blah nothingness greeted students and staff, today the Threadleaf Bluestar, the Prairie Drop Seed, the Purple Conelfower, the Wild Petunia, and the Black Eyed Susans sway in the breeze. I even found some Solomon's Seal loaded with berries. The plantings involve both large-scale areas and some very small areas embedded in the sidewalk. This gives me hope. Real hope. As these types of plantings become the "new norm" the generation of students who attend MSU today will, I hope, expect to plant these in their yards when they establish their new homes and careers.
As a major university, Missouri State University should take the lead in many issues
that affect the world around us. For far too long MSU lagged behind in environmental biodiversity. Today, though, today MSU is definitely in the game. While I believe there is still far too much concrete, lawn, and sterile landscaping on the Springfield campus, at least there is one area where students, staff and the community can enjoy the true beauty of nature. I appreaciate the steps MSU took these past few years to bring this about, and I look forward to MSU making the effort to expand on this wonderful new direction.