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Native Prairie Species Garden


Student standing beside sign
Ladasia, a junior at Spencer Center, planted a native prairie species garden on her school’s campus. She did this because the campus had very low biodiversity, clay-like soil, and few deep root systems. These caused runoff whenever it rained, which then eroded the land and polluted the watershed. She, along with many volunteers, built both an education garden and a wild restoration area on the hillside between the bus pickup area and the staff parking lot. She has fully planted the restoration area and will be starting the plants for the education garden inside this winter to be transplanted in the spring. She also created educational books to pair with the educational garden so that students and staff can learn about each plant individually before looking for them in the wild restoration area. By using many volunteers, Ladasia gained many community connections that will be able to partner her and the school in maintaining the garden and expanding the impact. She provided seed packets to many of these volunteers who were interested in creating their own prairie restoration gardens.
green yard by house
Through her efforts, Ladasia was able to target many of the UN’s sustainable development goals but she felt that her work addressed #15, life on land, the most. She is restoring the school’s biodiversity loss with the addition of 21 new native plant species. This addition will continue to increase the biodiversity by attracting other native animal species, including many critical pollinator species, such as the endangered Monarch butterflies.

One big take away Ladasia has learned from this experience is that with the power of community, anything is possible. Many volunteers, including Ladasia herself, had never gardened before and learned a lot about setting up, planting, and maintaining a garden along with the amazing ecological benefits that come with it. Hopefully this project has inspired hundreds of new gardeners that can further protect our watershed. Ladasia was able to achieve her goals and make an impact that will better the watershed for many years to come.

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Water Testing Demo Project

2021, Sacramento, CA, USA

George Washington Carver High School students Ekhman Kahlon and Tess Brown are concerned about the direct and indirect pollution of their local creeks. They are also concerned about the lack of awareness (especially of their peer group) about the importance of water quality and how it can affect the aquatic ecosystem as well as drinking water. They devised a project in which they would test some basic indicators of water quality in 2 local creeks, then discuss their findings through social media. In order to gain the attention of their peer group, the team designed and posted creek-themed memes, then posted about the constituents they tested for and what levels outside the standard range can mean for the health of the creek.  Ekman and Tess themselves learned a lot from the process and hope to get others interested learning more about water quality and the sources of pollutants in our waterways.


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2016, Fairfax, VA, USA

CLASSES PLANT GRASSES IN CHESAPEAKE BAYStudents at Lanier Middle School put a creative twist the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Grasses for the Masses” program to connect the concept to the classroom. Students learned that native grasses in the Chesapeake Bay can control and even alleviate toxic chemicals and out-of-balance naturally occurring elements. These grasses play an important role in reversing the Bay’s degradation. Through the Foundation’s program, volunteers grow grasses native to the Bay in their homes for 10-12 weeks with equipment supplied by the Foundation. When the grass is mature, the volunteers meet at a specific location and plant it. The students’ wanted to create an easy way to their peers to take part. By growing the native grasses in science classrooms, the program can be scaled up, increasing the positive impact the program.

Students recruited 7th grade science teachers to go through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s free native grasses training program in January, 2017. Every 7th grade science class at Lanier will be responsible for planting and raising some of the grasses. In May of 2017, the classes will take a field trip to plant the grasses in the Chesapeake Bay. This project will receive $1,500 from Nutrien for the start-up growing kits, which include items such as circulation pumps and heaters.

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2017, Sacramento, California, USA

Mianna Muscat hosts water science education

Mianna Muscat, of the MET Sacramento, has been involved in several previous Caring for Our Watersheds projects, including tree plantings and park clean-ups. This year, her focus was on expanding watershed education for her classmates. She wanted to find a way to engage students outside the classroom, educate them on the processes that provide water for the state, and connect them with nature. Mianna proposed a trip to the Headwaters Science Institute, during which students learn about the snowpack driven water cycle, how albedo affects rates of snowmelt, and methods scientists use to track the snowpack which makes up much of California’s water. Mianna’s proposal and implementation funds from Nutrien helped all 30 students in class to attend the trip and get this hands-on field experience in the area of Water Science and Management

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Misdeed of the Microbead

2015 Greeley, Colorado, USA

student with chequeYour everyday products such as toothpastes, facial cleansers, and body washes have little pieces of plastic called polyethylene beads which are more commonly known as microbeads. So, what’s the big deal? Well these little microbeads are so small in diameter that they aren’t picked up in filters, and end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Ultimately, they line the bottoms of water bodies, killing and harming fish and other species along the way. The best way to end this is through education and knowledge; if people actually knew of the harmful effects, they would seek a more natural alternative.
Education can be a small scale implementation but can quickly become a larger scale. Through social media we can support banning of microbeads, plus having anyone switch to an alternative could help on an individual by individual basis; every person that switches will make a difference. Just think, only one of Neutrogena’s “Deep Clean” contains thirty-six hundred thousand microbeads – one less tube in our water system would make a difference.

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2015, San Andres de Giles, Buenos Aires, Argentina

lichensThe focus of this project is to analyze the population of lichens found in trees within different areas of San Antonio de Giles town. The study of these lichens is important because they can be indicators of the quality of the air we are breathing. In order to define a parameter, the students plan to analyze the presence, or absence, of lichens in different parts of town. They also proposed an investigation on the density of the population of lichens and the analysis of the different types of lichens found. This analysis takes into account their color, appearance and the lichen’s grouping/type (foliose, fruticose, crustose). By analyzing the lichens the students are able to check and/or refute their hypothesis about the feasibility of solely using this method to monitor the quality of the air we breathe.

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Guardians of Nature

2015, Carmen de Areco, Buenos Aires, Argentina

guardians 1This project addresses the problem of how empty plastic bottles (PET) are currently handled in Carmen de Areco. The first stage of this project is to set up a collection center at the school, where community members can take their empty plastic bottles. The school will provide a place to collect, press and package these disposable bottles before delivering them to a recycling center.

Once the first stage of the project is established, the second stage of the project will begin. The students plan to extend the collecting center to other schools within the area.

The money gathered from selling the collected bottles to the recycling centers will be used to continue improving and sustaining the permanent operation of this system within the school(s).