Wildlife Corridor
Connecting Church and Community 

This 20 acre property, a former farm, was acquired in 2007 by Geist Christian Church to establish a second campus of the church. The original church campus is located at 82nd & Mud Creek. The landscape of the grounds is designed to honor native vegetation rather than conform to traditional landscaping with grass and ornamental plantings. Located close to Sand Creek, adjacent to the Ridgefield subdivision “Nature Park” and across the street from Billercay Park & Woods, the church property provides a biological connection for various plant and wildlife communities, in the midst of surrounding booming housing developments.

The challenges of envisioning, developing and maintaining this property will be evidenced during the tour.

Six RAIN GARDENS absorb storm water and divert parking lot run off from Sand Creek. They send water to three retention ponds, located on the south end of the property. The ponds rarely retain water, confirming the effectiveness of the gardens. Established in 2008 they were planted with water iris, penstemon, prairie drop seed and coneflowers. Now five years old, some invasive plants have crept in. The presence of the gardens is an opportunity for education; however they are often mistaken as “weed beds”.

Extensive preparation of the soybean field was required prior to planting three acres of PRAIRIE with forbs, native grasses and wildflowers in early 2008. Boundaries of the new prairie were defined by previously planted native flower beds to the east, the tree line on the banks of the creek to the west, property boundaries to the south and north. Now four years old the prairie has developed, but is not fully mature because of setbacks created from flooding, too late/too early mowing plus unchecked invasives. (The property is crisis-crossed with many utility easements which grant mowing and digging rights). Never-the-less, wildlife presence has increased on the prairie thanks to its inviting habitat!

prairie by the trash bin

The BUTTERFLY GARDEN was established in 2011 through an INPAWS Letha’s Fund grant and planted outside of the kindergarten classroom to provide learning opportunities. During its first season a few Monarch cocoons were found!  Early in 2013 the garden was moved to accommodate the installation of playground equipment. The recently transplanted garden is adjusting well to the move. Featured plants are sky blue aster, swamp milkweed, coneflowers, turtlehead, and blazing star.

A CREEKSIDE CLASSROOM was developed with a pathway to Sand Creek cut through the north end of the PRAIRIE. The pathway opens to a small clearing on the bank of the creek. Surrounded by rushes, honeysuckle and many other invasives, it affords an opportunity to expose children (and adults) to the difference between prairie development and the encroachment of trees into the prairie. A small platform permits a secure place to observe life in the creek. A few yards across the creek is the Ridgefield “Nature Park” (see “Community Savings”).

The FOOD PANTRY VEGETABLE GARDEN was initiated this year on the church grounds. Several young families are responsible for the care of the garden to supply fresh produce to a nearby church’s food pantry. Plans are for expansion in succeeding years. 


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