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Shared rain garden project at Bryan Station unites campus with common goals on sustainability


By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward

In an outdoor setting on the Bryan Station campus, AP Environmental Science students demonstrated their knowledge of and passion for sustainability as they chatted up eighth-graders who met them in the schools’ shared rain garden.

“I really want to set a good example of saving the earth. I want them to think of ways to take care of it,” said sophomore Jordan Leggin, who reminded the younger class about the limits of finite natural resources like water. “There isn’t much fresh water across the world, so we should be courteous to use less so it lasts longer,” Jordan added. “We should be very careful not to use up all our water sources.”

The garden has also evolved into an outdoor classroom complete with narrow wooden tables and bench seating for 30. Campbell and her students handle the weeding, mulching, and plant care; they also plan to add a compost bin and a rain saucer (Photo Provided)

The garden has also evolved into an outdoor classroom complete with narrow wooden tables and bench seating for 30. Campbell and her students handle the weeding, mulching, and plant care; they also plan to add a compost bin and a rain saucer (Photo Provided)

Teacher Leslie Campbell, who is also the co-sustainability coordinator at the high school, stood back and watched as her AP class took the lead teaching the middle schoolers in small groups. The older students had prepared four-minute lessons for eight activity stations: the purpose of rain gardens, plant identification, water conservation, Lexington’s storm-water issues, watersheds, urban sustainability strategies, water quality, and water pollution.

“Our goal is to provide an opportunity for all students and teachers to understand the water runoff issues in and around Lexington’s urban environment,” Campbell said. “We do have issues with the quality of our water after a big rain because the overflow goes (untreated) into rivers and streams.”

The rain garden, which eighth-graders spearheaded a few years ago after securing an LFUCG grant, has become Campbell’s bailiwick.

“It collects storm-water runoff and filters that water (into the soil) so it doesn’t go into our drains,” she explained.

The garden has also evolved into an outdoor classroom complete with narrow wooden tables and bench seating for 30. Campbell and her students handle the weeding, mulching, and plant care; they also plan to add a compost bin and a rain saucer.

During the recent lesson rotations, sophomore Cole Blancett walked handfuls of eighth-graders through center of the garden and pointed out the variety of plants.

“They’re all native perennials that take care of themselves,” Cole said, noting, “Milkweed is where monarchs lay their eggs, and that’s crucial for the life cycle.”

Campbell hopes her students feel empowered by what they’re learning and sharing with others. Maybe, for instance, the teenagers will decide to plant a garden or compost at home, remember to pick up pet waste for proper disposal, or clean out leaf-clogged gutters for an elderly neighbor.

“Teaching sustainability is my No. 1 goal,” Campbell said. “I want them to care about the environment and know what sustainability is and use those practices in their everyday life. All these little changes add up.”

Resources: www.sustainability.fcps.net.

Tammy L. Lane is website editor for Fayette County Public Schools


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