A Walk on the Wildside: Searching for Silky Prairie Clover at the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge

Interpretive Signage at the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday, I had my “learning to drive adolescent” chauffeur me out to the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge (TWR).  He got an hour’s worth of driving experience and I got to walk through part of the prairie found near the loop trail at the TWR.  The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There was also a personal scholastic purpose to this trip. My advanced interpretive media class is one in which I am learning to design the signs you see above. These are called interpretive signs and are there to engage the visitor to connect to the site and invite them to learn more.  The signs are much, much more complicated than they look, requiring research, specific but readable language, clear graphics and permission to use the graphic, use of white space, and minimal use of text. Making the signs require adept use of Adobe Creative Cloud Products like Photoshop and Indesign software. The challenge I am currently faced with, through this class, is designing a piece of interpretive media. Since I have already created brochures, flyers, and websites, I chose to focus on designing an interpretive sign or wayside panel. My panel will be for the Holland Sand Prairie, not the TWR.  However, both sites involve remnants of sand prairie and therefore, similar plants can be found in either place.



Today, I went in search of Silky Prairie Clover, a plant that resides in both locations. My aim was to shoot a few photos to be able to use on my interpretive panel.  This would enable me to avoid writing to other nature photographers to obtain their permission to use their photograph of this plant on my panel. Searching for Silky Prairie Clover proved fruitless, instead finding many patches of Hoary Puccoon!

In any case, I enjoyed our walk and shot many photos, anyway. Both my pretending to be bored adolescent and myself were really pleased to see so much common milkweed in the fields.  I have yet to have evidence of a visiting monarch butterfly yet this season. But, the milkweed is ready and waiting both here in the refuge and in my home gardens.

Anyway, I guess I will be writing a few letters so I can obtain permission to use someone else’s photograph of Silky Prairie Clover, after all. In the meantime, you never know when you might need a photo of some Hoary Puccoon! If the need arises, I am ready!

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