Schools play a huge role not only in educating their students but also in acting as a center for resources and a vehicle for change and improvement in their communities. The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Program is a partnership between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Prince George’s County Department of the Environment that recognizes the potential these institutions, amongst others, have to engage the community and implement projects that improve the water quality of local streams and rivers.
Parkdale High School, located in Riverdale, received a grant in 2015 to carry out impactful learning opportunities and hands-on engagement in environmental stewardship and stormwater management. Parkdale worked with several partners on this project, including the Clean Water Partnership, Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center. A professional development workshop was held for teachers and staff to equip them with knowledge on successfully implementing environmental literacy programs. The school was also able to host and mentor 13 student interns from the Prince George’s County Summer Youth Enrichment Program. The students were able to partake in a variety of educational activities, such as maintaining an edible food forest in front of the school’s campus and visiting several facilities working to protect our natural resources, including the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, where they learned of the County’s actions to better manage and protect the environment. The students also visited Bladensburg Waterfront Park to participate in a boat tour led by the AWS, where the students learned about initiatives to clean the river and restore native wildlife populations and habitats.
Parkdale was also able to address the stormwater management needs of their campus. The school installed a series of permeable surfaces that allow water to infiltrate into the ground while filtering out pollutants. Excess water overflows from the permeable surfaces to three different types of infiltration areas installed next to the permeable surfaces, that help to further filter out pollutants and let the water slowly absorb into the ground. Educational signage was also installed at the project site to educate the Parkdale community on how the project functions to treat stormwater runoff.
Parkdale successfully installed a functional and educational stormwater management practice, while also engaging their community in stewardship. Congratulations to Parkdale High School on an exemplary project!