Robert Stethem Education Center, Charles County, Kyle Olsen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Students and teachers visited the Storm Water Management site at Dr. Brown Elementary School. With guidance at this site, the students were supplied with tools, plants, and other materials to complete the project. The students planted a variety of wetland plant species, including those that grow both in and out of the water. Some students worked two days while others worked one day.
Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?
This project focused on the protection of environmental resources and local water management. The school was contacted by Paula Batzer of the Nanjemoy Environmental Center regarding the need for this project. Specifically, the Carrington neighborhood (development in St. Charles) benefited from the project, and to a larger extent, the county as a whole.
Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?
Issues in environmental science and horticulture were addressed. Students learned to properly install wetlands plants in and out of the water. Students were given hands-on opportunities to do a real-life project that helped the community. The project addressed water purity and contamination of local water sources by controlling storm run-off in the neighborhood. It also sought to create balance in the ecosystem. This is an ongoing project for students in the county due to the need for continued maintenance and recreational use. It is hoped that this project will encourage birds, waterfowl, and fish to return to the area. Finally, an important result of the project is that it helped empower students to make a difference in their community.
Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?
Students received prior instruction on the purpose of the project and were given hands-on instruction on planting submersible plants. The purpose of the project was discussed; the scope of the project was surveyed as well as projected goals. Students were asked to write about their experience as a reflective part of the activity.
Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?
Horticulture students were self-sufficient on the project and stepped up to supervise and guide other students through the project. Several students photographed and documented the event as well as participating in the preparatory work and actual planting. Some students volunteered additional time toward future maintenance of the site.
Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?
Paula Batzer, Nanjemoy Environmental Center; Dr. Brown Elementary; other local schools; the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?
A special committee was formed and 3-4 meetings were held to pre-plan the event. A topographical site map was developed to organize the site. Appropriate types and numbers of plants were identified and ordered. Students were sized for rubber boots and waders. Student service-learning coordinators helped arrange transportation through the school bus service. Significant coordination with Dr. Brown Elementary School regarding the role of all students was essential.
Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?
Students now know how to install and space wetland plants. Additionally, they have an increased understanding of how wetlands systems work. Students are more ecologically and environmentally aware of pollution and their role regarding it. They also developed social skills needed for teamwork, and as a result, a sense of community pride appears to have been achieved.