Emily A. Altrichter, Amy L. Moorhouse, Rebecca A. Reeves, and Brenna N. Towery
“A Prairie Pickle: Burn, Graze or Mow?” is a prairie management game for two to eight players designed to get people thinking about prairies. The primary objectives of the game are to educate people on the importance of biodiversity in prairie management and to introduce them to a number of land management strategies. The game addresses the fact that every management strategy can have both positive and negative consequences, and that negative consequences can be reduced by following best practice guidelines. As a secondary objective, the game also touches on a variety of factors that can influence management goals that are often outside of a manager’s control, such as funding sources and severe weather events.
This game primarily highlights two management goals: increasing species richness and conserving rare species to maintain biodiversity. This game is suitable for anyone from age 8-99+, but is probably best suited for use with middle to high school aged students (although college students can also have fun and benefit from playing the game). The beginner and advanced options for play accommodate players of all skill and interest levels, and they also allow a comparison of the different ways to measure biodiversity. We are currently compiling a list of post-game discussion topics that can be used to supplement lessons about prairies and management, as well as alpha and beta diversity, food webs, and ecosystem services.
This game includes: one prairie game board (24 in x 36 in) that can be printed either as a poster or on multiple sheets, 108 animal cards (featuring both rare and common animals from Midwestern Prairies), 116 plant cards (featuring both native and invasive species found in Midwestern prairies), 40 chance cards (highlighting events that can impacts the effectiveness of management strategies), and eight game pieces that feature famous figures in conservation such as Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold.