Sprawling across 92 acres of Adams County, Ohio, the Kamama Prairie nature preserve is home to hundreds of unique and rare plants, 72 types of butterflies and moths, a family of vultures and one “tiny house” created by University of Cincinnati architecture graduate students.
Thanks to the construction of this sustainable structure, the prairie is also now home to Adrienne Cassel, who has served as land steward for Kamama since 2013. As a lifetime volunteer, Cassel watches over and maintains the land, learns about its native plant and animal species and welcomes visitors to the site.
Kamama Prairie is part of Arc of Appalachia, a nonprofit organization that preserves and manages forests and other green spaces, including nearby ancient Native American effigy Serpent Mound. As a member of the Arc, Cassel learned about the stewardship position just as she was seeking volunteer opportunities to spend her time when she’s not teaching as a professor of English at Sinclair Community College.
“I wanted to do some volunteer work with nature because I am such a nature lover,” Cassel says. “I came to understand how threatened the environment is, so I wanted to balance my life in that way.”
She first visited the prairie in the spring of 2011. Kamama seemed like a perfect match for Cassel since it’s isolated from the Arc’s other connected preserves.
“I like a lot of solitude and quiet and I don’t mind being by myself,” Cassel says, “which is kind of unusual for most people.” And Kamama is quite unusual, too: The alkaline short-grass or cedar barren prairie is something of an anomaly for the region. The combination of uncommon soil conditions, an ever-changing ecosystem and its unique native plants have made Kamama a hotbed of rare plant and animal species. Simply put, there aren’t many prairies like this one in existence today.