Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rain Gardens!

Several members from the North Chapter of INPAWS (Indiana Native Plants and Wildflower Society) and Eric Kurtz from SWCD  (Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District) came to Woodlawn Nature Center for a site assessment for an upcoming rain garden! They looked at the soil, the building and how the water runs off, the shade of the trees, existing plants, etc. and came up with a preliminary plan to work with the Girls Scouts on installing a rain garden in front of Woodlawn Nature Center. While this is a girl led project, I helped connect them with good experts that could help them along the way!

Later, Eric gave an interactive presentation to the girls about water quality and how rain gardens help keep our water clean. He talked about how much water is in the world, breaking it down to how much water is really available to us for use. He started with 1000 mL to represent how much water is on the Earth. 

However, out of those 1000 mL, only 1 DROP is really available as clean water for our use and consumption!

Eric illustrated this by giving one drop to each of the girls to remind them of how little fresh water is available for our use.

Later, they set up a sample city with varying levels of topography. Eric guided the girls to set out various elements that might affect water quality, such as construction, transportation, farm animals, etc.

The girls made it "rain" (sprayed with water bottles). Then Eric guided them to discuss some of these pollutants. They used various items (like food coloring in a bottle, brown sprinkles for the poop!, green sugar for pesticides, glitter, etc.) to represent some of these pollutants.

 It "rained" more and the girls could see the effects of pollution. They talked about the watershed area.

As they wrapped up, they talked about some of the things they could do to make a positive difference on water quality, such as having rain gardens!

One of the Girl Scouts noticed my little guy didn't have a chance to make it rain, yet wanted to spray the bottle. She spoke up for him and made sure he could make it rain too. I loved watching this interaction and thoughtfulness.

It was kind of nice to have all the women leaders get a baby fix. Once he woke up, I didn't hold him until we left. He had plenty of love! :-) 

The girls had such interesting comments and questions. Most were right on target, yet some were distracted with dinosaurs being related to birds and lizards and sharks living in salt water. It's always so interesting to listen to what children connect. Another girl asked, "Is it true the water we use to shower is recycled? If so, it's kind of gross . . . " I guess it kind of is, but it drives home point of how precious water is. I think it's something I tend to take for granted. I always have clean, accessible water when I turn on the faucet. But I lived in the Dominican Republic for about 1 1/2 years as a missionary. I know what it's like to not have safe drinking water or running water in a house or even hot water.

During the evening, the Girl Scout also brought an arbor and barrel to donate to Woodlawn Nature Center! It's neat to see some plans for the outside of WNC coming together. Thanks Girl Scouts!

Have you thought about creating a rain garden in your yard or using more native plants? There are educational helps for rain barrels and rain gardens in Elkhart County, as well as a reimbursement plan for residents. Find more information here. St. Joseph County SWCD has some information here. Both counties have rain barrel auctions as well! 
Rain Barrel Auction in St. Joseph County 
Rain Barrel Auction in Elkhart County 

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