On RFD-TV: Jenny Keshwani
Encroachment of eastern red cedar threatens to change the prairie into forest. Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have created the new Prairie Protector video game to help the public understand this threat. Jenny Keshwani, associate professor of biological systems engineering, talked about the project live of RFD-TV, July 25, 2022.
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[00:00:00.510]Well, Nebraska is home to one of the largest intact
grassland systems in the world, however, the eastern
[00:00:06.450]red cedar is threatening to change the prairie and to
[00:00:10.470]Well to help inform the public, researchers have
created a new Prairie Protector video game.
[00:00:16.620]Jenny Keshwani, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
is one of the game's creators, and she joins us now for
[00:00:24.030]And Jenny, thank you very much for your time here this
[00:00:26.850]So video games and conservation, not necessarily what
you think of.
[00:00:30.390]So why did you guys decide to create this game?
[00:00:34.170]Yeah, thanks for having me, today.
[00:00:35.700]I was working with a team of researchers from Nebraska,
Oklahoma, and Texas really focused on studying
[00:00:43.230]And as part of the education team, we were looking for
different resources that we could use to guide the
[00:00:48.780]development of education materials.
[00:00:50.700]So we read a blog from the Nature Conservancy that
really compared the spread of eastern red cedar to
[00:00:56.670]arcade games like Mission Control and Space Invaders
and things like that.
[00:01:01.080]And since me and a lot of our other research team
members had experience with educational games, we
[00:01:06.150]thought it made a lot of sense, really to lead to the
creation of Prairie Protector.
[00:01:11.850]Why is an invasion of eastern red cedar considered to
be a bad thing?
[00:01:17.460]Yeah, so basically, trees belong in forests, not in
[00:01:22.320]Really, fire has historically been part of grassland
[00:01:26.000]And it wasn't until settlers started moving in and
building homes and towns and really trying to prevent
[00:01:32.780]fire that species like eastern red cedar, which is
actually native to prairie grasslands, really began to
[00:01:40.670]So when this happens, there's the issue of trees
[00:01:45.920]Less grass means less profit for ranchers, but also a
decrease in the biodiversity of other plants and
[00:01:53.360]animals that really belong in those native grasslands.
[00:01:57.260]And why do players learn from playing Prairie
[00:02:00.560]What what exactly do they learn from this process?
[00:02:04.010]Right, so players take on the role of a land manager in
[00:02:07.730]So they're given plot of land, and they get to make
decisions on how to remove trees from that property.
[00:02:14.390]They have a variety of tools to choose from, so they
can use fire or other mechanical tools like a chainsaw,
[00:02:20.360]And really, this allows them to learn strategies for
how to keep eastern red cedar in check.
[00:02:25.370]So they start from the edges and move in towards the
[00:02:28.370]They also build empathy for land managers.
[00:02:31.070]And they learned that trees aren't always a good thing,
sometimes in the land of Arbor Day it's confusing
[00:02:36.500]because we think of trees as being good for the
[00:02:38.990]But sometimes, it's something that shouldn't be in an
[00:02:42.830]Now, how can people access the game and also the
resources that go along with it?
[00:02:48.680]Definitely. So you can head over to
prairieprotector.com to play the game.
[00:02:53.090]It's all free.
[00:02:54.140]As well as go to growable.unl.edu to access our
educational resources supporting the game.
[00:03:01.190]All right. Well,thank you very much for joining us,
[00:03:03.380]We appreciate it.
[00:03:04.160]She is with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
connecting with us here today.
[00:03:07.970]Again, you can go online to prairieprotector.com for
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