Elk­ton High stu­dents help beau­tify town, re­duce runoff



— Fifty Elk­ton High School ninth-grade en­vi­ron­men­tal stu­dents in­stalled rain gar­dens at the farm­ers mar­ket on Howard Street and shrub­bery in the back of Meadow Park on Mon­day and Tues­day.

The pur­pose of the project is to re­duce flood­ing in both ar­eas and keep pol­lu­tants from run­ning off into the Big Elk Creek, said Nora Win­ter­mute, ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor of the Fair Hill Na­ture Cen­ter.

“The big point of to­day


is to get them out­side and to ac­tu­ally have them par­tic­i­pate in the com­ple­tion of this project and feel own­er­ship in their com­mu­nity, to have fun, to re­al­ize that be­ing out­side and do­ing stuff out­side is fun,” she said.

The stu­dents were bro­ken into sub­groups where they each fo­cused on a spe­cific task and then switched. One group cre­ated de­signs for the rain bar­rels while the other worked on the rain gar­den. Around mid­day, the group from the mar­ket switched with the group at Meadow Park, where stu­dents were given de­mon- stra­tions on bat houses and stu­dents planted na­tive species of plants, said Karen Asphin­wall, an ed­u­ca­tor at Fair Hill Na­ture Cen­ter.

Asphin­wall said if there was enough time for the stu­dents, there would be a timed ex­per­i­ment that in­cluded 10 to 15 stu­dents re­mov­ing fig but­ter­cup, an in­va­sive species at the park.

Aspin­wall said stu­dents planted a mix­ture of shrubs such as bay­berry, win­ter­berry, choke­berry and sum­mer sweet, and

peren­ni­als such as milk­weed, blue star and blue indigo in the rain gar­den. Mean­while, stu­dents at the park planted shrubs such as bay­berry, win­ter­berry, choke­berry and sum­mer sweet.

Stu­dents from the school were ex­cited to be a part of this project and im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment pos­i­tively.

“I like to help out with the en-

vi­ron­ment,” ninth- grader TiCia Brown said.

She said the plant­ing ac­tiv­ity was new and ex­cit­ing.

“It feels good to do some­thing for the com­mu­nity,” ninth- grader An­gel Blevins added.

Ninth- grader Lilly Lay­ton said the project al­lows the stu­dents to help out their com­mu­nity by re­duc­ing flood­ing and runoff. She said she is most ex­cited about the rain bar­rels be­cause she and her class­mates were able to de­sign the bar­rels and see their

work in­stalled first­hand.

A sec­ond group of about 65 stu­dents came to fin­ish the project on Tues­day, Win­ter­mute said. The group at the farm­ers mar­ket met some dif­fi­cul­ties due to the rain.

“We had to put off a few plant­ings be­cause of the rain, but for the most part, I would say we got ev­ery­thing pretty much ac­com­plished that we needed to,” said Lisa Lane, a ninth- grade en­vi­ron­men­tal teacher.

Win­ter­mute said that stu­dents

may come back to fin­ish up the last bit, but the grant’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions had been sat­is­fied. Any re­main­ing work may be fin­ished by staff if stu­dents don’t do so.

The rain bar­rels are sched­uled to be placed by the mar­ket in May af­ter stu­dents de­sign and paint them, Win­ter­mute said.

Sid­ney Ojofeitimi, stormwa­ter pro­gram man­ager with Elk­ton’s De­part­ment Pub­lic Works, said it took eight men about four to five days to dig up the asphalt

and get the area ready for the stu­dents to plant the rain gar­den.

Ev­ery high school in the county has been sup­ported by a $ 5,000 Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources grant to com­plete a stu­dent- led ac­tion plan with the help of Fair Hill Na­ture Cen­ter staff.

At Bo­hemia Manor High School, stu­dents in­stalled rain bar­rels at Ch­e­sa­peake City Town Hall to re­duce runoff and cap­ture ex­cess rain­wa­ter.


Elk­ton High School ninth-graders An­gel Blevins and TiCia Brown plant a shrub by the Big Elk Creek’s shore­line Mon­day.

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