by Lisa Tome
A year's worth of outdoor education came to fruition last week as fifth graders at Rising Sun Elementary began planting their rain garden.
"We're going to install a rain garden to help catch sediment and runoff before it gets in the storm drains," explained Brian Richardson, an educator for North Bay.
The project started months ago, when North Bay instructors went into the classrooms at the school. They led students in activities such as a habitat survey, and a study of nitrates and phosphates. The fifth graders then took a trip to Rising Sun's Veterans Park where they performed a biological stream study.
Richardson said the students were challenged to improve the school environment, the community, and the local water tributaries and therefore improving the Chesapeake Bay.
The 16 foot by 16 foot rain garden contains 240 native plants installed by the students. The plants serve a multitude of purposes. Some, such as milkweed, are expected to help boost the monarch butterfly population.
"This rain garden will need to be maintained and weeded. It will also be protected so it is not mowed," said Richardson.
Fifth grader Collin Baldwin said planting the rain garden gave him the opportunity to learn about nature.
"You get to plant with your friends. And even though it's raining, you get to go outside with your friends and have fun," said student Madeline Weaver.
Fifth grade teacher Diane Wasko said this project will serve as one of the stepping stones for Rising Sun Elementary to earn the Green School designation.