The Tallgrass Prairie Center is a strong advocate of progressive, ecological approaches utilizing native vegetation to provide environmental, economic, and aesthetic benefits for the public good. The Center is in the vanguard of roadside vegetation management, native Source Identified seed development, and prairie advocacy. The Center primarily serves the Upper Midwest Tallgrass Prairie Region and is a model for similar efforts nationally and internationally.
History of the Tallgrass Prairie Center
The Center was established at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in 1999 as the Native Roadside Vegetation Center, foundedby Dr. Daryl Smith. It is located on the UNI west campus and utilizes 65 acres of campus and leased land for native seed production plots.
The name was changed January 1, 2006, to more accurately reflect its mission, programs, and activities. Many of the programs are accomplished through partnerships with organizations, associations, and federal, state and local agencies. The land, equipment, facilities and staff of the TPC support a variety of UNI faculty research projects, creating enriching opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Northern Iowa.
The primary programs of the Center are Research and Restoration, Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM), and Natural Selections. The Research and Restoration Program reflects UNI’s 30-year commitment to prairie reconstruction, restoration, management, and advocacy. The Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program (IRVM) was established in 1988 to assist Iowa counties in implementing IRVM programs utilizing native vegetation. Natural Selections (formerly the Iowa Ecotype Project, initiated in 1990) develops regionally adapted Iowa Source Identified foundation seed for commercial production.
In 2013, Dr. Laura Jackson became the new director and Daryl Smith took on a new role as the TPC's Advocate. Dr. Smith retired in August 2015 and remains an active, Volunteer Advocate for the Center.