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  Education > Schoolyard Habitats >Success Stories > 2007/2008 School Year


Schoolyard Habitat Success Stories

 

2007/2008 School Year

Berlin Intermediate School

Berlin, MD

 

Chesapeake Biological Lab

Solomons, MD

Rain Garden

East Millsboro Elementary School

Millsboro, DE

 

Easton Elementary School

Easton, MD

Meadow

Eaton Elementary School

Washington D.C.

Slope Stabilization

Indian River High School

Dagsboro, DE

 

Lockerman Middle School

Denton, MD

 

Lord Baltimore Elementary School

Ocean View, DE

Rain Garden

Loudoun Valley  High School

Purcellville, VA

 

Lower Dauphin High School

Hummelstown, PA

 

Southern Fulton Elementary School

Warfordsburg, PA

 

Stevensville Middle School

Stevensville, MD

 

Sudlersville Middle School

Sudlersville, MD

 

Watkins Elementary School

Washington D.C.

Rain Garden

 

 

 

 

Berlin High School
Berlin, MD

Project Size: ~2,600

Berlin High School wetland

Cost: $3000

Funding: Chesapeake Bay Trust

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, Berlin HS community

Background:
Berlin Intermediate School has a forested nature trail at the edge of school property they use as an outdoor classroom. Not content with just one natural area for study, the school wanted to add a wetland to their school grounds. The land adjacent to the forested area was a perfect spot. It took advantage of the existing nature area as well as the downward slope of the land from the school to the forest.

Site Preparation:
Members of the Berlin after-school Ecology Team had the opportunity to witness Environmental Concern’s Restoration Crew transform mowed grass into wetland.  The 2600 ft2 wetland was designed with a shallow 1ft pool on the uphill side of the wetland and a deeper pool of 2 ft on the downhill side.  Since the soil at Berlin was a little sandy, a layer of granulated clay was raked into the existing soil in the two pooled areas to help the wetland hold water.  In addition, a portion of the excavated soil was used to create a berm on the downhill sides of the wetland to help hold water during major storm events.

Planting Day:
On the planting day, the Ecology Team was ready plant. The team came out in shifts throughout the school day and spent 2 hours after school planting 500 plants. Two months later, after plants had gone dormant for the winter, the Ecology Team spread a native wildflower seed mix on the upland areas. This seed will stay dormant through the winter months and sprout come spring to help stabilize the soil on the berm and upland areas.

Plants:
Herbaceous:
Sweet Flag, Water Plaintain, Swamp Milkweed, Broomsedge, New York Aster, Bluejoint Grass, Fox Sedge, Blunt Spike Rush, Marsh Hibiscus, Soft Rush, Great Blue Lobelia, Switchgrass, Pickerelweed, Lizard's Tail, Woolgrass, Green Bulrush, Common Three Square, Soft Stem Bulrush, Joe-Pye Weed, Seaside Goldenrod, Blue Vervain, New York Ironweed
Trees & Shrubs:
Red Chokeberry, Winterberry, Bayberry

Berlin HS wetland

 


Chesapeake Biological Laboratories
Solomon's Island, MD

Project Size: ~2,000 square feet

People planting wetland plants

Cost: $5000

Funding: Chesapeake Biolab

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, CBL

Background:  
With drainage issues, ecological concerns and a need for beautification, the waterfront site at the new lab building of the Solomon’s Island Chesapeake Biological Laboratories (CBL), was begging for a rain garden.  However, with limited space, several physical obstacles (such as compressor units and underground storage tanks) and poorly draining soil there were going to be some challenges.  Challenges and opportunities are closely related.  Therefore, this site provided the opportunity to showcase to the community how to work around obstacles and hide eye sores, how to select plants for sunny or shady conditions, how to work with tight spaces, how to work with difficult soil conditions, how to make a sight much more visually appealing by using native plants, and how much better rain gardens are at infiltrating large quantities of water than a typical turf lawn.

Jackie Takacs from CBL contacted Environmental Concern about the project and her wishes to use the site as a tool to help teachers and home gardeners learn what they could accomplish with the construction of a rain garden.

Site Preparation:
 It was decided that an unused corner of the gravel parking lot should be converted into planting space to allow more room for a rain garden at the building’s front entrance.  Approximately 1 foot of gravel and construction fill was removed from this 650 sq ft area and replaced with a loose topsoil/sand mix.  A portion of the gravel from the original edge of the parking lot was left intact to function as a walkway into the garden.  Garden edging was used to separate the new garden area from the remaining parking lot. 

There was a grassy 10’ wide strip along the 120’ edge of the building was receiving water from 3 downspouts and an HVAC unit.  Underneath the back section of this area was a buried, glass-lined tank, making the use of heavy machinery impossible.  Therefore, all of the grass was removed with a sod cutter and transplanted to other areas on the campus.  A few inches of fresh topsoil were added to where the grass was removed from the back stretch to give the new plants better space for their roots.    

In the front side area, a 90’long by 8’ wide trench was dug, using a backhoe, to a depth of 2-3’  (depending on underground lines).  This area was designed to function as a bioretention area for the majority of the water on the site.  It was back-filled with about a foot of small gravel and another foot of a mix of soil and sand.  A berm was constructed behind this area to help retain the water and keep it from flowing to the neighboring property. 

Planting Day:
The morning of the planting day, a workshop was held for area educators interested in creating rain gardens on school property. Following the instructional overview of planning a rain garden, the group was invited to see the current project site and learned about the special challenges and site conditions.  Then the participants rolled up their sleeves and planted the back portion of the garden area. 

A second workshop took place that afternoon for members of the community with personal interests in creating rain gardens on their own property.  They also had an overall introduction to rain garden creation and then went to the site to understand its unique situation and help plant the front area of the garden. 

Informational signs are planned to let the public know about the garden and additional programs are planned to inform the public about the water quality and habitat benefits of rain gardens. 

Plants:
Herbaceous Species: wild columbine, jack in the pulpit, NY aster, cinnamon fern, royal fern, boneset, blue flag iris, cardinal flower, monkey flower, switch grass, river bulrush, river oats, marsh hibiscus, spring beauty and great blue lobelia
Woody Species: black chokeberry, buttonbush, sweet pepperbush, inkberry, swamp rose and river birchlants:

 

Chesapeake Biological Loboratories rain garden before

Chesapeake Biological Loboratories rain garden after

 


East Millsboro Elementary
Easton, MD

Project Size: ~1,000 square feet

East Millsboro Elementary School Yard Habitat

Cost: $1500

Funding: DNREC & Center for the Inland Bays

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, East Millsboro

Background:  
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) contracted with Environmental Concern and The Center for Inland Bays to design and install two schoolyard wetlands for the 2008 school year.  East Millsboro Elementary School was selected for a habitat to enhance their outdoor learning space because of their enthusiasm for the project.  The school’s campus is large, mostly flat, and sandy, not quite the perfect conditions for a wetland.   However the project team, made up of students, teachers and EC staff, was able to locate a suitable site to create a sustainable wetland.  The chosen project site was an area at the edge of the playing fields that sloped down toward the woods and left just enough open space for creating a wetland that would be large enough for a class to visit.  Following site selection, the team took measurements of the drainage area, then brainstormed ideas for the design and function of their wetland which were combined into the final design of the project.

Site Preparation:
The school’s maintenance staff, aided by Swift Construction, a local excavation crew, created a peanut shaped hole at the base of a slope coming off of the playing fields.  The hole was approximately 20 feet long and 15 feet wide.  The deepest central point was dug to a depth just over one foot and the sides gradually got shallower as they moved out toward the edges.  In order to help the sandy soils hold the necessary water, an inch of granular clay was added to the bottom of the wetland. 

Planting Day:
The planting day was organized so that 600 excited students each had a chance to participate. The kindergarten students were paired with the older students and classes were brought to the wetland site 3 at a time.  Each group cycled through three activities during one class period.  The first station taught students about wetlands through the Wetland in a Pan demonstration.  At the second station students got an understanding of the important ecological and economic functions of wetlands by making a wetland charm craft.  And at the third station each pair of students planted a plant in the wetland. 

At the end of the day, the school invited the local fire department to help water the wetland for the first time.  The fire company brought a tank of water and was able to soak all of the plants and fill most of the wetland to give it a head start towards becoming a healthy wetland habitat. 

Plants:
swamp milkweed, bluejoint grass, fox sedge, joe-pye weed, marsh hibiscus, blue flag, rice cutgrass, cardinal flower, monkey flower, royal fern, cinnamon fern, pickerelweed, black-eyed susan, duck potato, lizard's tail, soft stem bulrush, shadbush, winterberry, swamp rose

East Millsboro Elementary School Yard Habitat

 

East Millsboro Elementary School Yard Habitat

 


Easton Elementary School
Easton, MD

Project Size: ~12,300

Easton Elementary meadow planting

Cost: $1500

Funding: Chesapeake Bay Trust, Newton Marasco Foundation

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, Easton Elementary (Dobson students)

Background:  
Dobson Elementary School, in Easton, MD, is applying to be the first Green School in Talbot County Maryland.  The certification program, which is managed by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, is a two year process in which schools must fulfill a series of requirements including integrating environmental education throughout the curriculum, employing best management practices inside and outside the school grounds, building the capacity of teachers, engaging the community and celebrating the effort.      Environmental Concern formed a partnership with the school to help them with many aspects of the process.  (For more information about the MD Green School programs visit www.maeoe.org ).

The school wanted to kick off their journey to Green School Certification with the installation of a schoolyard habitat.   After identifying potential areas that could be converted into beneficial habitats, Principal James Redman and EC decided on creating a wildflower meadow.  The meadow was designed to convert .25 acres of turf grass into habitat for birds, butterflies and small mammals and will help to improve water quality in the nearby Tred Avon River.  The chosen site for the meadow borders the edge of existing woods which will create a beneficial wildlife corridor.

Site Preparation:
EC provided a teacher training to show that the area will provide an ideal space for the early elementary school students to get outside and investigate the natural world while learning everything from math and science to reading skills. To get the students excited, in March, the Kindergarteners and first graders participated in a horticulture lesson and potted goldenrod and broomsedge.  The students diligently cared for the plants as they grew in their classrooms then brought them out to be planted in the meadow in May.

The turf grass was removed in two ways, part was sprayed and tilled by the schools maintenance crew and the part closest to the drainage ditch was physically removed by Environmental Concern’s restoration team.  Strips of turf grass were left in place to create passageways through the meadow and to divide the meadow into 3 manageable areas for easy maintenance.   These three zones can be mowed independently of one another to discourage successional growth while leaving two thirds of the meadow intact at any given time.

Planting Day:
The planting area was divided into separate plots for each class to plant.  Meadow installation was a three phased process.  First, classes broadcast the seeds around their plot.  Next, music was played and the students energetically danced around the area to create good seed to soil contact.  To finish, the students spread straw mulch, coating their plot to protect the seeds from the weather and from being eaten. 
A few classes planted small plants, including those grown in the classrooms, to give the meadow a head start so that results could be seen before students left for the summer.  At the end of the planting all of the classes gathered along the edge of the habitat to see what they had accomplished and celebrate their achievements.  The students cheered as the first watering took place and the principal spoke about the successes of the project. 

Plants:
Broomsedge, Spotted Joe-Pye Weed, Cardinal Flower, Switchgrass, Seaside Goldenrod, Blue Vervain, Little bluestem, Indiangrass, Virginia Wild Rye, Purple top, Lance leaved coreopsis, Purple coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Marsh Blazing Star, Wild Bergamont, Wild Sienna, New England Aster, Butterfly Milkweed, Common Milkweed

Easton before

 

Easton Elementary Meadow

 


Eaton Elementary School
Washington D.C.

Project Size: ~1000

Eaton Elementary School habitat

Cost: $2500

Funding: NOAA B-WET, District Department of the Environment, Eaton Parent Volunteers

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, students, volunteers


Background:
Eaton Elementary school is located in Northwest Washington D.C.  Along one side of the school building is a small, sloped rectangle of land covered in part by grass and in part by severely eroding soil and rocks.  During rain events, water carried soil and rocks down to the sidewalk and eventually into the nearest storm drain.  With funding from a partnership with NOAA, Environmental Concern worked hand-in-hand with the 4th grade teachers and students at Eaton to alleviate the erosion problem and add wildlife habitat to their schoolyard.

Through hands-on activities, students first learned about wetlands and watersheds.  They then took a walk around their schoolyard tasked with creating a map of their schoolyard, and choosing a potential site for their habitat.  The decision was made to focus their habitat on this eroding side of the school to try to prevent future erosion and further contamination of the local waterways.  Students and teachers worked to create a design for the area and choose native plants that would survive in the partly shaded and sloped area.

Site Preparation:
Parent volunteers and the schools custodian took part in prepping the site by tilling, removing turf grass and amending the soil with compost.  To allow students access into the habitat, a path of stepping stones was laid through the garden over a narrow strip of landscape fabric (to prevent weeds). 

Planting Day:
All fourth grade students came out to the habitat site to help plant.  Each class was given a group of plants to put in the ground.  Once planting was finished, students used buckets to spread mulch throughout the habitat.  Some students were so excited about the project they chose to skip recess to help finish up mulching and help water.   

Plant List:
wild columbine, sea oats, joe-pye weed, cinnamon fern, switchgrass, woolgrass, seaside goldenrod

Eaton Elementary School habitat

 


Indian River High School
Dagsboro, DE

Project Size: ~3,500

Indian River High School planting

Cost: $2500

Funding: DNREC, Resort Landscaping & Irrigation

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern

Background:  
In 2006, Environmental Concern formed a partnership with the Center for the Inland Bays to create two schoolyard habitats in Sussex county Delaware with NOAA funding.  Based on the success of those projects the partnership grew and further money was secured from DNREC so that more schools in the area could create similar schoolyard habitats. 
Indian River High School (IRHS) was selected as a candidate due to the site’s great habitat potential.  The newly built school with extensive grounds and a large uninteresting expanse of turf covered drainage swale at the front of the building provided a large blank canvas with an extensive drainage area.   Representatives from Inland Bays, Environmental Concern and IRHS including students from the environmental club met in January to discuss the project, take measurements, select plants and make plans for the wetland design. 

The location in the swale is visible from the environmental science classroom and will help to slow water running off of the school grounds as it heads toward the rivers and streams that surround the school.  The area will also provide more visual interest while adding greatly to the wildlife habitat of the schoolyard.

Site Preparation:
Located in a functioning drainage ditch, the project was designed to manage a large quantity of water.  Working with a large volume allowed for overall design flexibility.  A deeper open water area was planned to increase the diversity of species that could be supported by the habitat, and provide a yearlong area where water quality testing could be performed. 
Fred Winward, a father of one of the students at the school, donated the services of his landscaping company, Resort Landscape & Irrigation, to create the deeper, wider, central pooling area in the swale.  As part of the Coastal Plain – the project site’s soil was dominated by highly permeable sand.  Therefore, the soil was amended with, bentonite granular clay to help the soil retain more water. 

Planting Day:
Planting began after strong storms deposited several inches of rain across the region. Since the site was flooded by the heavy rains, school facilities personnel used a sump pump to help lower the water depth so that areas could be more easily planted.  Several hundred students as well as a few dozen AARP volunteers helped throughout the day to install over 1200 plants, mulch around trees and upland areas and remove areas of turf grass to increase the wetland edges. 
Local media was on hand to do a story for the newspaper and AARP spent a good deal of time interviewing and photographing students and volunteers for an article in their magazine.
All of the students and teachers were excited about the change in their campus, and are looking forward to keeping a close watch on the habitat area.  Future plans include making the area more functional as an outdoor classroom with the addition of benches, tables and bridges

Plants:
pitch pine, silver maple, broomsedge, black chokeberry, New York aster, fringed sedge, mistflower, boneset, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, monkeyflower, switch grass, swamp milkweed, river birch, redosier dogwood, winterberry, pin oak, woolgrass, tussock sedge, bald cypress, green ash, marsh hibiscus, swamp rose, bluejoint grass, fox sedge, blunt spike rush, blue flag, pickerelweed, soft stem bulrush, lizards tail
Several large trees were planted to provide shade and break up the wide open expanse of lawn.  Plants were selected with the goal of attracting wildlife and improving water quality.  Both the herbaceous and woody species were chosen to support and provide for a wide variety of birds, beneficial insects and other wetland animals. 

Indian River HS before

Indian River HS after

 


Lockerman Middle School
Denton, Maryland

Project Size: ~3,000

image: Lockerman Middle School students plant wetland

Cost: $2500

Funding: Chesapeake Bay Trust

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, Lockerman students

Background:  
Lockerman Middle School had a hidden treasure in their courtyard – hidden being the operative word.  Prior to the project, visitors to the school would see a courtyard dominated only by a swath grass with a few dilapidated picnic tables that existed untouched by teachers or students.  Several teachers and the administration believed that the courtyard could be so much more.  At the first site visit, Environmental Concern was in agreement and on board.  Seeing a series of gutters that drain stormwater from the roof into storm drains – and ultimately the Choptank River, Environmental Concern saw the opportunity to redirect the stormwater into a wetland habitat and outdoor classroom.

Site Preparation:
The location of the project, a courtyard situated in the middle of the school created some challenges.  The area did not allow access for heavy equipment to do the work.  Therefore several 8th grade student volunteers worked to remove the turf and topsoil to create a path from one end of the courtyard to the other and dig a small wetland as the centerpiece of their courtyard.  Excavated soil was used to sculpt the areas of the courtyard to increase drainage toward the wetland area, and native wildflower seed was planted to stabilize the disturbed soil.

Planting Day:
Over 120 6th & 7th grade students helped to transform the courtyard into a wildlife habitat.  Each class came out to the courtyard to discuss the water quality and habitat benefits of their new courtyard and plant native species.  Throughout the day students planted over 150 plants including two large trees.  After having so much fun planting during class one group of students came out during their study hall to help finish up by adding plant tags to label each species and spread hose for watering. 

Plants:
Herbaceous
water plaintain, swamp milkweed, New York aster, river oats, blue flag, cardinal flower, switchgrass, soft stem bulrush, seaside goldenrod, phlox, obedient plant
Trees & Shrubs
sweet pepperbush, highbush blueberry, willow oak, red bud

 


Lord Baltimore Elementary School
Oceanview, DE

Project Size: ~400 square feet

img: Center for Inland Bays volynteers by new wetland habitat

Cost: $1000

Funding: Center for Inland Bays

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: CFIB volunteers and EC


Background: Soon after Lord Baltimore Elem. School underwent renovations to improve and enlarge the school, the students and staff moved back in and are making more room for wildlife.  They have designated an area for restoration behind their playing field, added some landscaping and decided to create a rain garden.  Sally Boswell of the Center for the Inland Bays along with Center Volunteers and a local garden club are been helping the school accomplish its goals. 
The rain garden will help create more permeable space near the edge of a large parking lot and basketball courts to allow rainwater to percolate into the ground instead of running off, carrying pollutants into the Bay.  It will also serve as an area where students can observe and study native plant, butterflies, birds and other visiting wildlife

Site Preparation: As the rain poured down, the garden location was marked out and school maintenance staff began to remove the top soil to create a basin for the garden.  Shortly after, a large depression was made the fire department came along to flush the fire lines, sending hundreds of gallons of water right towards us, flooding the newly dug area. For the next hour or so cold, wet volunteers from the garden club proceeded to bail out the area so that it would be possible to plant that afternoon.

Planting Day:
While the bailers were successful in removing enough water to plant, it was not ,dry enough for the young students that had planned to join in the planting.  Instead of having the students dig and plant they helped us arrange the plants and observed some of the process so that they could still be a part of the events. 

The volunteers from the garden club and Center for The Inland Bays worked to put the plants in the ground and mulch the new berm and plantings.  As the day came to an end, the sun came out and everything looked like it had gone completely as planned.  The new garden is well placed so that it can be observed from the front parking area as well as by the students traveling back and for the from recess.

Plant List: New York aster, blue flag, cardinal flower, black-eyed Susan, woolgrass, blue vervain, purple chokeberry, red osier dogwood & inkberry

img: Center for Inland Bays wetland habitat under construction

 


Loudoun Valley High School
Purcelville, VA

Project Size: ~ 2000 square feet

img: Louden Valley HS students survey habitat site

Cost: $2000

Funding: The Newton Marasco Foundation, & donations from Gardens of Delight Nursery & Environmental Concern

Design: Students& Environmental Concern

Installation: Students, Faculty & EC

EC Staff: Sarah Toman

Background:
Loudoun Valley High School is located in a quickly growing county outside of Washington DC. Two dedicated teachers, John DeMary & Liam McGranaghan, have been working to make the school and its surrounding community “greener” for years. At the school, they have conducted a variety of plantings and have created a wildlife sanctuary in the school’s courtyard. In the community, the students were instrumental in developing and maintaining a nature trail. Each year, the teachers seek out ways to involve the new environmental science students in an on-the-ground project.

This year project was converting a sterile stormwater management pond at a local housing development into a functional wetland habitat and research area for the school.

The students became the teachers, first researching the benefits of wetlands, then educating the homeowners through a series of presentations. Permission was granted, and the project began to be phased in; the first phase being a no-mow buffer zone and the second phase a large-scale wetland planting.

Site Preparation:
EC met with the students in the high school ecology classes to take measurements of the planting area and select appropriate plants to introduce into each watery zone. The plants were chosen from a selection of natives with a focus on wildlife benefits and aesthetics. Some of the turf grass at the edges of the water was removed along with a few cattails so that the new plants would have less competition as they get established. 

Planting Day:
A light drizzle on planting day helped to loosen the soil and water the plants. Over two days the students that had helped to take the measurements worked in shifts to plant the species they had selected. 

A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony helped to celebrate the day, the students, the homeowners, the funders, and the wetlands. Local media was on hand to cover the story giving students an opportunity to hone their interviewing skills as they talked to the parties involved and wrote up reports about the wetland and its creation. 

Along with the addition of 1400 plants, the students created a mulched nature trail for easier access to the wetland where they will be able to visit and test water quality and learn about the plants and the animals of the area. The path will also increase the opportunities for passive recreation for community members. Students will be collecting comparing water quality data to the base data collected before planting. Eventually it is expected to see improved water quality within the pond leading to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. 

Hopefully a third phase of the project will make it possible to plant the remaining half of the pond.

Plants:
arrow arum, duck potato, pickerelweed, lizards tail, common three-square, soft stem bulrush, buttonbush, sweet flag, blue jointgrass, fox sedge, blue flag, NY aster, Boneset, marsh hibiscus, monkey flower, cinnamon fern, New York Ironweed, cardinal flower, orange coneflower, sea oats, bleeding heart & rough sunflower

img: Louden Valley HS muddy students after planting

 


Lower Dauphin High School
Hummelstown, PA

Project Size: ~ 3000 square feet

Lower Dauphin HS planting

Cost: $2000

Funding: NOAA. Meadowwood Nursery, Edward T. Fischl Landscaping

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Students, Faculty & EC


Background:
Situated between Hershey and Harrisburg, Pennsylavania, you’ll find Hummelstown.  Hummelstown is a small town located along the Swatara Creek, a tributary of the Susquehana River which empties into the Chesapeake Bay.  The local high school, Lower Dauphin High, decided to take action to reduce the runoff flowing from their school property into Swatara Creek  by creating a meadow garden designed to to slow, capture and treatthe stormwater.

Dedicated teacher, Dawn Koons, responded to Environmental Concern’s call for proposals – looking for schools located within the Chesapeake bay Watershed interested in developing a wetland schoolyard habitat project. 

Her enthusiasm and compromise moved the project forward despite initial apprehensions voiced by the administration.  Because the school administrators had decided that no standing water was acceptable.  the  wetland project morphed into a wet meadow or raingarden,   to be located in a drainage swale along the back side of the school in a very public site along the main road.
In the spring of 2008 a group of National Science Honor students joined, EC staff, Ms. Koons and several teachers and community participants in an after school meeting to plan the habitat area.   The students helped to select a variety of native flowering plants and grasses that are atractive to both wildlife and the general public..  Several trees and shrubs were also selected to line the street side of the area to act as a natural barrier between the traffic on the busy street nearby and the outdoor classroom.

Site Preparation:
Edward T. Fischl Landscaping generously donated their services in removing the existing turf grass in the area to be planted.  A deeper temporary pooling area was created near an existing drain. The drain was then partially blocked so that the majority of stormwater would stay in the garden, and excess water would be able to escape down the drain. 

Planting Day:
Students, teachers and community members volunteered their time on a rainy Sunday to plant the habitat.  Teams worked to dig, plant, mulch and create walkways through the habitat.  Several strong storms made planting difficult and slowed progress.  However, everyone kept their spirits up and continued planting through the soaking rain and muddy conditions. 
At one point a severe thunder storm forced everyone to take shelter and truly showed how much water could come into the area.  After a few adjustments and some bailing the planting continued.  A portion of the planting was left to be finished by classes to commemorate earth week.

Plants:
Herbaceous: broomsedge, wild columbine, swamp milkweed, smooth aster, NY aster, blue indigo, yellow indigo, bluejoint grass, lurid sedge, fox sedge, boneset, sunflower, marsh hibiscus, seashore mallow, cardinal flower, monkey flower, bee balm, cutleaf coneflower, switchgrass, ironweed,
Shrubs: smooth alder, gray dogwood, redosier dogwood, ink berry, swamp rose
Trees: silver maple, shadbush, river birch

Plants were selected with the goal of attracting wildlife and improving water quality. Both the herbaceous and woody species were chosen to support and provide for a wide variety of birds, beneficial insects and other wetland animals. Plants were also chosen for their ability to tolerate alternating wet and dry conditions.

 

Lower Dauphin HS before

Lower Dauphin HS after

Southern Fulton Elementary School
Warfordsburg, PA

Project Size: ~3,200

Southern Fulton Elementary students and their schoolyard habitat

Cost: $2000

Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, B-Wet Grant

Design: Environmental Concern

Project Support: Fulton County Conservation District

Installation: Students, Faculty, EC, and FCCD

 

Site Preparation:
An area designed to direct stormwater quickly away from the school was already channeling the water to the desired project location.  The design challenge was, to encourage the water to remain where it was needed.  The soil at the site was porous and had a layer of shale just below the surface.  In order to deal with these less than desirable wetland conditions 3-8 inches of surface soil was removed depending on the desired depth of the wetland zone.  Topsoil and clay were then added back in to provide good growing medium for the plants and to retain more water than before. 

Donated equipment from Robert Shay of A-Z Landscaping and time from Mr. Brambley & Mr. Reinike moved the earth and created the depression for the wetland which provided extra soil to create a berm to retain the water.

Planting Day:
The planting for S. Fulton was unusual to say the least.  In order to give all of the 2 nd – 6 th graders the opportunity to participate we scheduled 2 full days of planting in early November.  On day 1, an earlier than usual cold spell provided a ¼ inch layer of ice on the surface of the new wetland.  As the day warmed up, the ice thawed and a new group of students braved the cold every half hour to learn about the wetland and take part in planting the grasses, shrubs and flowering plants that were beginning to go dormant. 

The second day of planting was a bit warmer than the first.  There was no ice, but it did snow for the majority of the day. The students were well prepared and enjoyed the opportunity to be in the mud and the snow all at once. 

When the day was done, over 1,000 plants were in the ground and several thousand more seeds were in place all awaiting the return of warmth when spring arrives.  The students also helped to install 2 bird feeders that Mr. Reinike donated and created a walkway from unearthed shale pieces. 

Plant List:
bluejoint grass, blue flag, arrow arum, pickerelweed, duck potato, common three-square, marsh hibiscus, green bulrush, woolgrass, tussock sedge, spotted joe-pye weed, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, monkey flower, switch grass, blue vervain, black-eyed susan,  chokeberries, red osier dogwood & various wetland plant seeds.

Southern Fulton Elementary schoolyard habitat before

Southern Fulton Elementary schoolyard habitat after

 


Stevensville Middle School
Stevensville, MD

Project Size: ~870 square feet

Stevensville Middle Schoo schoolyard wetlandl

Cost: $3,000

Funding: Chesapeake Bay Trust

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, Stevensville MS community

Background:
Stevensville Middle School is located on Kent Island in Maryland, surrounded by Chesapeake Bay waters. Its location and natural beauty have attracted residents and vacationers alike. The Island has experienced tremendous developmental pressures thereby increasing the area of impervious surfaces resulting in a decrease of natural habitat areas. The middle school is situated on a large parcel of land, but there is very little unused space due to temporary classrooms, sports fields and fire evacuations routes. Fortunately a corner of the school’s playing fields was identified and cleared for use as a wetland outdoor classroom. Located adjacent to a creek buffer zone, the new wetland habitat would directly help to clean water coming off the playing fields and increase the diversity of native plants. Due to the school’s location in the flat coastal plains of Maryland the drainage area for the wetland was quite small. Just a small portion of the water from the playing fields flowed toward the wetland area. Despite the small amount of water, Stevensville still wanted their habitat to be a significant habitat for attracting native wildlife. Therefore, half of the 870 ft2 area was designed to be a 2 ft deep pooled area meant for holding water while the remainder slopes upward to become a very shallow wet meadow.

Site Preparation:
Originally, installation was planned for the warm days of early fall. However, due to some staffing changes at the school during the wetland planning phase the project excavation was delayed until December. Despite cold temperatures, sleet and snow, the excavation went on. Because the soils at Stevensville were fairly sandy, a layer of granulated clay was raked into the deepest portion of the wetland to help hold water. In addition, a berm was constructed on the downhill side of the wetland to help hold water during large storm events.

Planting Day:
On their chilly planting day in December, students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade came out to help bring their muddy wetland to life. The students planted almost 400 plants, helped spread wildflower seed in the meadow and berm, and helped install biodegradable matting on the meadow and berm to stabilize the soil and newly spread seed until the wildflowers sprout in the spring and their roots work to stabilize the soil naturally.

Plants:
Herbaceous:
Sweet Flag, New York Aster, Lurid Sedge, Fox Sedge, Joe-Pye Weed, Boneset, Marsh Hibiscus, Soft Rush, Great Blue Lobelia, Monkeyflower, Black-eyed Susan, Lizard's Tail, Green Bulrush, Woolgrass, Seaside Goldenrod, Blue Vervain, New York Ironweed
Trees & Shrubs:
Atlantic White Cedar, Sweet Pepperbush, Inkberry

 


Sudlersville Middle School
Sudlersville, MD

Project Size: ~1500

Sudlersville Middle School students-muddy after planting habitat

Cost:$3,000

Funding:Chesapeake Bay Trust

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: EC staff, students

Background:
Every time it rained, a portion of the school’s playing field became a muddy mess.  Water from the roof was being channeled by gutters and emptied through pipes onto their gym fields.  What better place to put a wetland!  The wetland was sited at the terminus of the drain pipes to take advantage of the existing hydrology associated with the roof’s run-off. 

Site Preparation:
Sudlersville Middle School’s Ecology Club saw this project as the perfect way to get outside, get wet, and add a new study area to their school grounds.  They jumped in and assisted with the project design and planting.  

Environmental Concern’s Restoration Department excavated the wetland.  The 1500 ft2 wetland was dug 2 ft deep in the middle and sloped up to ground level.  A portion of the excavated soil was used to create a berm to help hold water during major storm events.

Planting Day:
On planting day the sky opened up and rain came pouring down.  For any other planting project, this may have spelled doom.  Not so for wetlands.  The ecology club was ready to get wet and make their schoolyard habitat dreams come alive.  The group spent almost 2 hours in the wetland getting muddy from toe to head!  In total, the students planted close to 500 plants on that rainy October day.  

Plants:
Herbaceous
Sweet Flag, Water Plaintain, Swamp Milkweed, Broomsedge, New York Aster, Bluejoint Grass, Fox Sedge, Blunt Spike Rush, Marsh Hibiscus, Soft Rush, Great Blue Lobelia, Switchgrass, Pickerelweed, Lizard's Tail, New York Ironweed, Woolgrass, Green Bulrush, Common Three Square, Soft Stem Bulrush, Joe-Pye Weed, Seaside Goldenrod, Blue Vervain
Trees & Shrubs
Red Chokeberry, Winterberry, Bayberry

Sudlersville Middle School habitat construction

 

Sudlersville Middle School habitat planting

 


Watkins Elementary School
Washington D.C.

Project Size: ~450

Watkins Elementary School-students in new schoolyard habitat

Cost: $2500

Funding:National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, B-Wet Grant, District Department of the Environment, Watkins Parent Volunteers, Hands-On DC

Design: Environmental Concern

Installation: Environmental Concern, Students, Faculty, Volunteers

Background:  
A new school warrants a new schoolyard habitat, so as Young Scholars of Central PA Elementary School enters their second year at their new location in State College, they were excited to add a wetland habitat to create an outdoor classroom.  As part of their back to school training every teacher participated in the POW! the Planning of Wetlands workshop where they were an active part of the wetland design team. 

The school campus already had a stormwater retention area that offered the perfect site for a wetland habitat.  Small alterations were planned and plants were selected that would turn the area into a thriving wetland for the school to enjoy. 

Site Preparation:
Excited by the planning and ready to dive in to wetland creation, the team wasted no time in checking with town officials about any necessary permits.  It was then that the project hit a slight snag in finding that the site selected was in violation with the town for not draining as quickly as it was designed to.  As the school had never received notice of the violation, there was sudden concern of the habitat project being derailed.  Since the site retaining water was important to the wetland design, members of the planning team met with town official to explain the benefits of the wetland creation in hopes that the benefits of their plan would both outweigh and address the concerns associated with the standing water (namely mosquito habitat).  

Once the town officials heard how the project proposed to be a balanced wetland habitat, providing for the needs of mosquito predators and posed no significant threat to safety they approved the project. 

After approval, parent volunteers came together to deepen one area of the site and remove the cattails there to make way for diverse new wetland plants.  They used the excavated soil to create two small islands to add to the diversity of the habitat. 

Planting Day:
As is the tradition for our PA wetland projects, we began the planting under cool, dark, stormy skies.  And, as it has been raining heavily in the days leading up to the planting, the area to be planted was covered in several inches of water, an added challenge when planting. 
Several parent volunteers helped to organize planting teams as each class came out for 40 minutes at a time to take part in the planting.  The process started slowly as students were hesitant to plant in the cool water with the low air temperature.  As the day progressed, the sun returned bringing with it warmth that motivated the students to plant more efficiently. 

By the end of the day the hundred participating students and volunteers had planted close to 600 plants and added dramatically to the diversity of species at the site.   

Plants:
Marsh marigold, New York aster, tussock sedge, fox sedge, blunt spike rush, Spotted joe-pye weed, Boneset, marsh hibiscus, blue flag iris, seashore mallow, cardinal flower, monkey flower, swamp rose, green bulrush, soft stem bulrush, New York ironweed, black chokeberry, silky dogwood, buttonbush, inkberry, elderberry, red maple, shadbush

Watkins Elementary School-student learning how to plant
Watkins Elementary School-new schoolyard habitat

 

 


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