DuVal High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, installs a rain garden on campus to reduce stormwater runoff and provide an outdoor classroom for students.
According to the Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) , “the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed must be built on the collective wisdom of its citizens and this begins by building the environmental literacy of our youth.” To empower the next generation of environmental stewards, our schools must be equipped to educate our youth on current environmental issues and topics, such as stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and is often a major issue on school campuses. It can cause flooding and standing water, resulting in safety concerns and unusable outdoor learning space. The implementation of stormwater management practices, such as rain gardens, on school campuses has high demonstration and educational value. These practices allow teachers and students to investigate and study environmental topics right on their campus.
DuVal High School, in Lanham, Maryland, for example, installed a rain garden on campus through a grant award provided by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. The rain garden was designed by the Neighborhood Design Center, with staff and student input. Students, teachers, and volunteers planted over 200 native plants that were selected based on the light and soil conditions of the planting site, including black-eyed Susan, Maryland’s state flower. In addition to reducing stormwater runoff on campus, the rain garden is also used by the school as an outdoor classroom, where students can investigate and study water flow, stormwater management, native plants, pollinators, and more. The garden is also used by English and Art classes to inspire poetry and art.
Prior to the installation, DuVal students, teachers, and staff participated in workshops to learn about stormwater runoff, its impact on the health of local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and practices they could implement on campus to help improve the health of our waterways. With the help of community partners including the Prince George’s County Public School’s Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, Neighborhood Design Center, Prince George’s County Master Gardeners, and University of Maryland, DuVal staff and students learned how to maintain the rain garden and use it for educational purposes.
Stormwater management practices implemented on school campuses are instrumental tools in connecting our youth with environmental stewardship. They help teachers teach “beyond the textbook” and provide the opportunity for “high-quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on experiences” (Educator’s Guide to the MWEE).
Congrats to DuVal High School for a successful project and thanks for helping teach our youth the value of our natural environment!