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.