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Increasing Cleveland’s Depleted Tree Canopy

2021, Cleveland, OH, USA

The project is titled Increasing Cleveland’s Depleted Tree Canopy, which has massively decreased over the last eighty years. Ehthyu and Emeraude decided to focus on trees because they create a safe environment and help reduce stormwat er runoff by absorbing pollutants from their roots, which helps keep pollution from getting into the Lake Erie Watershed. Trees provide oxygen, habitat to the wildlife, and benefit our environment in so many ways. Increasing the number of trees in our community and spreading awareness about the importance of trees in our environment was the number one goal of this project.

Ehthyu and Emeraude developed three original virtual lessons about trees and their importance in our environment and taught them to local fifth graders over a week in April. The  students were given brochures, which contained more information on trees and how to plant them so that the students can have more knowledge on trees and know how important they are to the environment. Each student was also provided a red oak seedling, so that they also can contribute to this act of increasing the Cleveland’s tree canopy by planting trees. Each of the seedlings came with a brochure so they will know how to take care of their trees, until they will grow and reach full maturity. The students were engaged in the lessons as they were taught and seemed to be interested to know how much trees can help create a healthier environment.

Eastern white pine seedlings were also distributed that were received from the Project Plantit! Program through Dominion Gas to community members directly and through a local organization called the Bellarie-Puritas Development Corporation, along with the brochures to spread the word and encourage people to start planting. The rest of the seedlings were distributed to as many people as possible with brochures. Three trees were also planted on the John Marshall High School campus grounds. They were mulched and watered afterwards so they can thrive, and they will be maintained, and the growth of the trees will be monitored throughout the years. Through this project, Ehthyu and Emeraude had the opportunity to educate people through the lessons they developed and the brochures they designed and produced. They spread the word about the importance of trees, how trees can benefit the environment, and how trees keep the watershed clean. It was a great and fun project that was enjoyed by all. Ehthyu and Emeraude are grateful for the funding and this opportunity.


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Lighting Our Way to a Greener Future

2021, Cincinnati, OH, USA

The project “Lighting Our Way to a Greener Future” is all about energy conservation. The concern was that the sidewalks and landscaping around Mount Notre Dame High School weren’t well lit, and the school was planning on placing new lights. This group decided to place solar powered lights around the school instead of a standard light, which emits harmful emissions into the environment.

The first step was finding a light that works. Two lights were ordered, and after careful consideration and testing, as well as price comparison, NekTek Solar Powered Lights were chosen. A map was filled out of where lights were needed, and it was decided that a total of 60 lights would be ordered. After ordering the lights, they were put together and registered for a one-year warranty. Using the help of the maintenance crew and Earth Action Team at MND, the lights were placed around the school. In the next several days, the lights were observed, and changes were made based on positioning and exposure to sunlight.

Posters were also created to help spread awareness about the project, as well as encourage MND students that this is something they could easily do at home. This project demonstrated how caring for our watershed can be simple. There are steps that everyone can do in their lives to help. Overall, placing the lights helped reduce the amount of energy used at Mount Notre Dame. This project tackled several Sustainable Development Goals and successfully cared for our watershed.

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Let’s Catch the Rain

2021, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Morgan and Allison worked to reduce non-point source pollution and combined sewer overflow while promoting water conservation by adding rain barrels to a local elementary school and their community garden. At Vermont Elementary School they added two fifty-gallon rain barrels, and the elementary school kids are able to use the recycled water to water their school garden. In addition, Morgan and Allison taught a lesson to the students about the importance of saving water and the effects of runoff. The rain barrels they installed are painted with designs picked out by the fourth graders themselves to add a fun touch (they chose fish and raindrops with the Wyoming School District logo!). They got a group of volunteers to come and help them paint the rain barrels, and using the new research and innovation center at their high school, they made templates of the fish and Wyoming logos to assist them in painting.

At the community garden Morgan and Allison first added a gutter system to the pre-existing shed to collect water. Then they connected to two fifty-gallon rain barrels to the downspout to divert the rainwater. Gardeners are able to help conserve water and reduce runoff by using the recycled water when watering their plants.

To better spread the word about their project, water conservation, and the impacts of surface runoff, they created posts on the school Instagram page and a community Facebook group. Additionally, they created a sign placed next to the rain barrels at the elementary school so curious students and parents can learn more. Lastly, they created a website that can be reached through the QR code on the sign and through links on the social media posts. The website includes information on the Mill Creek Watershed, information about water conservation, tutorials on how to install rain barrels with links to the products, and a description about their projects.

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To help raise awareness about the sewage runoff problem facing their community, Aria Schottelkotte decided to write and record a song. After heavy rains, Aria noticed the raw sewage runoff that was going into the local watershed. She noticed that water quality thus decreases dramatically, resulting in parts of the river being closed where there is usually swimming and recreation. Knowing that recreation is one of the best ways for people to get involved with and care about their watershed, when it is prevented from happening, the problem can only get worse.

Aria wrote the song using the instruments she plays, then went to a local recording studio and hired musicians to help fine tune the sound. Once the track was professionally mixed, she uploaded it to Spotify and iTunes so that people could listen to it both within her community and all over the world. With lyrics like “it’s all up to you”, Aria set out to create a change in the Ohio River watershed as well as wherever else her song may be heard.

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Run Off
The Runoff film was important for Brendon Lowry to make because oil runoff is such an important issue, but is not brought up very often. He felt that what is often discussed is air pollution, and wanted to raise more awareness about this other type of pollution. The film he made shows that oil runoff is damaging our watershed.

The film that he did was actually broken up into two sections. The first section of the film was a video about oil runoff, while the second was set up as interviews. He did interviews with several people discussing the importance of addressing oil runoff and asked them if they believed that it was an important issue.

Brendon thought it was very important for consumers to understand the damage caused by oil runoff. The use of motor oil is one of the largest sources of pollution into his watershed and other waterways. Oil is toxic to people, wildlife, and plants. One quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of water. Americans spill 180 million gallons of used motor oil into our nation’s waterways each year. Having clean water is very important to our health and everyone benefits from clean water. We can all help in getting and keeping our watershed clean.

Run Off

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After numerous technology and scheduling issues, the Buzzing with Biodiversity project was a success! The plan was subject to change from the beginning, but the goal of spreading awareness and action throughout the community did not. Thanks to the Caring for our Watersheds project, there in now a widespread knowledge of the importance of pollinators in Wyoming Ohio, and thanks to the project funding, Wyoming is likely to become a hotspot for botanical biodiversity in the upcoming summer and for many summers to come. Multiple unexpected changes were made, but these changes all have one thing in common: they increased the impact and efficiency of the project.

Samuel Mota and Lucas Plante’s plan had always started with education of the importance of pollinators within Wyoming High School, but achieving the goal of widespread action through the school was unexpected. It seemed that everywhere the project was mentioned, people were excited to help. This was consistent from presentation to classroom, however the expected participation from the pamphlet was low. To make sure that all the bee houses and seed packets went to good use and were not wasted, A few bee houses were put in the front of Mrs. Majors’ classroom with seed packets to go with them and a message was written on the board encouraging students to take them home and use them in their own yards. To much surprise, by the end of the day, not only had the bee houses from the board been taken home, but all eighteen that had been brought in were gone.

To see this much participation from the students was astounding and brought about the final change that was made to the plan. It was not expected that all recipients of the pamphlet that was to be handed out would request seed packets, but after so many were given out in the classroom, there were not enough remaining to be able to assure that all of those who requested seed packets would receive them. Subsequently the pamphlet part of the plan was cancelled and taken off the budget. This also solved the problem of having no simple way of being contacted by all who wanted seed packets. The remainder of bee houses will go to those who requested at the presentation, several teachers at Wyoming high school, and Gorman Heritage Farm. The goals of educating the Wyoming community and encouraging action throughout it were achieved.

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Ice melt
Every year 66 million tons of salt are used worldwide to melt ice off of roadways for human use. This salt is contaminating waterways, groundwater, harming animals and aquatic life, and causing stress on flora and fauna. Thus, Sophia and Olivia Dick embarked on a journey to turn to find natural ingredients that would have the same effects as road salt, only with less impact on the environment.

The mixture that they came up with only contains alfalfa meal and used coffee grounds, which naturally lowers the freezing point off water while simultaneously providing traction just like salt. When winter is over, the mixture acts as a natural fertilizer for plants and grass as well. Sophia and Olivia were able to involve their community in creating their ice melt alternative, purchasing their alfalfa meal from a local feed shop and receiving coffee grounds for free from their local coffee shop.

To use their concoction, snow should be cleared off first before dispensing the melt using a kitchen strainer or cup. Sophia and Olivia set up booths throughout their community where they gave out bags of their natural ice melt for free. They made it clear that they intend their project to be used residentially, and if it goes well to potentially be used within their city’s roadways. To encourage their community to make their own ice melt when the original bag runs out, the “recipe” was attached – 3 parts alfalfa for every 2 parts of coffee grounds.

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Safe Fishing
Jack Williams, Evan Prater, and AJ Washienko hoped to use their love for fishing as a way to help their watershed. They brainstormed and thought of safer practices and equipment to use that would help to reduce the impact of fishing on the environment. The group searched for the best alternatives that would be environmentally friendly, and came across 3 products: biodegradable fishing line, tungsten weights and bronze hooks.

They decided to implement their hooks into a summer youth fishing program at Lake Isabella through Winton Woods. This would not only immediately reduce the impact due to the use of these products by many children, but more importantly, it would give us the opportunity to inform the next generation. The boys plan to give an informative talk and are in communication with Winton Woods. It is their hope that this program will be informative and influence the youth to think about the products they may choose to fish with someday.

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In Wyoming High School’s AP Environmental class, students learned about the watershed and entered a citywide watershed contest. This project challenged individuals to generate and implement an idea that would benefit their watershed. One group, composed of students, Jenny Lewis, Stella Dionysiou, and Carla Unzueta had a goal of building a compost bin for their high school or one of the primary schools in their location. Unfortunately, the initial plan was rejected by the schools, so they began to think about another way they could implement a bin into the community.

In the end, the group constructed a compost bin for a neighborhood in Wyoming Ohio. This was done in an effort to reduce household food waste and educate children and adults alike about the importance of recycling nutrients and environmental sustainability. By composting, people can decrease waste in landfills that contributes to greenhouse gases such as methane. Such gases can expedite global warming and pollute both the atmosphere and the water in communities. Additionally, compost can also help to save water, prevent erosion, and create a rich humus-soil that can be used in gardens.

Creating the bin proved to be more difficult than expected. After transporting long wooden planks and chicken wire into their backyards, the group was tasked with the process of construction. First the wood was cut and measured to the appropriate size. Next the planks were drilled to the posts of the bin with an electric drill. This took several attempts, as the wood proved to be quite hard to drill through. Finally, the chicken wire was stapled to the inside of the bin using a staple gun. After six hours of hard work, the bin was complete!

After the bin’s completion, the girls contacted neighbors about the bin’s construction and informed them of its role as a compost bin for the neighborhood. The neighborhood children were invited over to view the bin and learn about its function in recycling waste and were informed about what could go in the bin. Encouraged by their small victory, the students hope that their efforts will encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Their efforts have already inspired another compost project in Wyoming.

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Abby Shores noticed a problem with a local stream in her community. The stream, which she calls St. Clare stream, runs through a three by one half block wooded area behind her house. It eventually connects to the Mill Creek. This area is owned by a local convent and includes a five-foot City of Wyoming easement. Unfortunately, it had been neglected due to its small size and isolated location. This lack of caring led it to be abused by illegal dumping, littering, and general misuse.

Abby created an immediate solution to turn the area from an abandoned dump to a community greenspace. She collaborated with local officials at the City of Wyoming to install a trash can on their portion of the property. This trash can not only prevented litter, but served as a symbol of her community and city’s commitment to the area. Because of her hard work the trash can has been put on the city’s weekly pickup route. She estimates the trash can will reduce litter by up to 56%.

The second part of her project was designing a cleanup day of the stream. This promoted community outreach and a greater unity among neighbors. She went door to door mobilizing volunteers and utilized social media to spread the word. During the cleanup day they removed almost 300lb of waste from the stream. This included everything from aluminum cans to iron construction beams. She hopes this cleanup day inspired others to hold events in the area. It showed how greater use of a space promotes long term environmental sustainability. Even though the stream is small, its revitalization served as an example to other municipalities.