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Back to School, Prairie-Style


The son of Ivory Coast immigrants, Muhammed lives in the Bronx and is entering his senior year at the High School for Environmental Studies. He had many firsts during his recent trip to the prairie, from capturing and releasing prairie dogs as part of a research study to roasting marshmallows around a campfire.

Muhammed traveled to the prairie with five other students from New York City schools: Vaughn, Diana, Prabhjot, Tenzin, and Aidee. Their trip was made possible by the inspirational Sponsors for Educational Opportunity program that helps low-income students get their college degrees in America — a milestone that will be a first for many families. The students spent their long summer days learning about the prairie ecosystem and getting exposure to a wide range of careers and outdoor experiences like hiking, geocaching and swimming in the Missouri River.

For Muhammed, the trip to the prairie was an extra special occasion – his 17th birthday. He writes, “A prairie birthday is a very unique, once in a lifetime opportunity and it is one that I will always remember.”

See more photos and read about the journey in a recent article in The New York Times.