Chicago State University

Feel The Burn

On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, the department of Biological Sciences conducted a prescribed burn of the University prairie garden located on Martin Luther King Drive between 95th and 97th streets. A prescribed burn is an important process of renewal to maintain a healthy and vibrant prairie on campus. The CSU prairie garden is an asset to the community and is used by students and faculty for research and learning. 

“Illinois is called the prairie state for a reason,” said Dr. Karel Jacobs, professor of Biological Sciences. “Historically, most of Illinois was prairie; however, today less than one tenth of its prairie remains. It is unique for CSU to have three acres of land devoted to prairie in an urban community.”  

Prairies are known to improve air quality, attract pollinators (native species of bees, moths, butterflies and birds), increase the health of the soil, and foster community engagement.   

Remic Ensweiler, a licensed prairie burn specialist from the College of DuPage oversaw the prairie burn. The University welcomed community partners from the Field Museum’s Keller Science Action Center to assist with the burn and restoration. 

Later this spring, the University will be planting new trees and shrubs in the prairie in conjunction with a community tree-planting initiative supported by the West Chesterfield Community Association, Openlands and the Morton Arboretum. The Openlands will be donating the trees and shrubs. For more information about CSU’s urban prairie,  contact Dr. Joyce Gana, professor and chairperson, Biolocial Sciences Department at Chicago State University. Email:  

Fun fact: CSU also has a greenhouse on campus that is used for environmental research.


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