Student-led projects in Local Watershed Health
Alaska Garden Grant Winner
Students in Holly Hereau’s AP Environmental class participated in place-based learning opportunities while increasing biodiversity and watershed health near their school, opening a world of recreation, stewardship, and a way for students to engage the school district in their local environment. They started by evaluating the environmental health of the school ground, focusing on removing invasive Phragmites and fixing the stormwater retention area. The students researched how to properly get rid of the invasives, what were the native flora that had been excluded and what environmental conditions they needed to grow successfully. Additionally, the students considered what would support pollinators and increased bird presence. After collecting some baseline data (water depth, water quality, species diversity, and abundance) to track changes to the watershed after completing the garden, students then applied herbicides, removed the dead biomass, and planted native plants grown in the school’s the indoor greenhouse.
When the garden is completely installed, elementary and middle school teachers in the district will bring classes to the garden for guided field trips. Pairs of students from AP Biology and AP Environmental Science classes will teach small groups of students at stations, each with a different theme (watersheds, the impact of rain gardens on watersheds, biodiversity, the impact of invasive species on biodiversity, the impact of pollinator gardens on biodiversity, bird identification etc.). Students will not only develop their short lessons to include important content to be delivered at the appropriate grade level, but they will also be required to include a fun hands-on activity at their station that will help solidify their understanding. Stations will enhance the concepts and topics that are embedded in the units we design and help younger students learn the important aspects of healthy ecosystems.