In collaboration with Dr. Karin Kettenring (Utah State University) and the Salt Lake County Jail’s existing horticulture program, INSPIRE’s Bulrush Research Project provided an opportunity for inmates to work with scientists and gain hands-on science experience as they helped to identify the optimal growing conditions for alkali and hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus). The findings of the research project will contribute to wetland restoration efforts along the Great Salt Lake, where the invasive Phragmites weed is currently out-competing bulrush and other native plants.
In spring 2014, a project team of 16 inmates, two University of Utah students, one Utah State University graduate student, and two INSPIRE staff members provided regular plant care and data collection. Science classes were offered twice each month to inmates involved with the Bulrush Research Project. Classes were taught by University of Utah faculty, staff, and visiting scientists, and they provided an opportunity to further explore the scientific process and topics related to wetland restoration.