Eighty-eight students at Petersburg Elementary School became watershed stewards as they potted tree saplings to grow into trees and replanted the school’s rain garden.
Petersburg’s fifth graders assisted with potting 125 native tree saplings for the newly constructed Grow Out Station. These dogwood, sugar maple, sawtooth oak, and apple saplings will grow in the caged station for one year as students will care for and inventory the progress. As sixth graders, the students will have an opportunity to sell or donate the trees to forest their communities and benefit their school.
Trees were not the only focus of the new stewards. Students were aware of the school’s rain garden (planted in 2013), but were unaware of the many benefits that it provided to the schoolyard, Potomac River watershed, and for native animal habitat.
The eighty-eight students helped to revitalize the existing rain garden with weeding, mulching, and replanting over 100 native plants. Through classroom lessons, the fifth graders became knowledgeable of how the large garden was absorbing potentially pollution-filled stormwater and filtering out the sediment, nutrients, and chemicals to send clean groundwater to the tributaries of the Potomac River. Back in 2013, the rain garden mitigated major puddling in the courtyard. In 2019, the tall shrubs and rain garden plants absorb the extra rain water and create wildlife habitat for birds and pollinators.
Cacapon Institute would like to extend a big thank you to all eighty-eight student volunteers and for project lead, Julie Colaw, for their hard work.