The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

PVAS & PHWS Projects 2011

Paw Paw Schools, WV Rain Garden

Ben Alexandro of Cacapon Institute spent the spring 2011 semester delivering the Potomac Valley Audubon Society's Watershed Education Program to students of the Paw Paw school in Morgan County West Virginia. To finish their lessons, students constructed a rain garden on their school grounds to fix an erosion problem. 

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Left.  CI's Ben Alexandro works with Paw Paw school students as they use NASA GLOBE equipment such as GPS and soil Augers out into the school yard to take soil samples in different locations for possible rain garden sites.



Below The soil at the school was generally uniform and compacted.

Students found that the soil at the school had too much clay in it for rain gardens - it absorbed too much water and did not let enough flow through it.  Ben (left) worked with students using NASA GLOBE equipment, the students found that sand and gravel could be added to make the rain garden more permeable and help excess rain water infiltrate into the ground. The students unanimously decided on this location for the rain garden next to the breezeway under the leaky gutter where students trampled throughout the school year.

The Envirothon Club chose the native plants they wanted from the USFWS backyard habitat guide based on suitability in rain gardens and aesthetics and designed the rain garden. (Minor alterations were made)
Frank Rodgers of Cacapon Institute created an in-depth design of the structure of the rain garden using the information the students discovered throughout this semester. At 8:30am on April 27th, 2011 the students break ground on the project.
First the students must dig down about 6 inches and remove all the soil. Working Hard.
Levi and his fellow 8th graders had a great idea of mixing one part sand with one part soil to make the rain garden more permeable while still allowing the plants to have suitable soil. Frank Rodgers and Students build a box for the beautiful rain garden. Two foot rebar stakes are driven through the box to keep the rain garden stable.
Students help Frank install a liner around the box so that the soil does not seep out through the cracks. Chris scarifies the ground in the garden to help the water peculate into the ground. A layer of gravel is spread across the bottom of the garden.
Next students fill up the box with the sand soil mixture.  CI's Ben helped them. The soil is evenly distributed across the garden.
At 2:00, the 4th and 5th graders come out to plant the native plants and the Virginia wild rye grass that they grew in the classroom as part of the PVAS program this year. At 2:00, the 4th and 5th graders come out to plant the native plants and the Virginia wild rye grass that they grew in the classroom as part of the PVAS program this year.  Ben says: "Put on over there!"
By the end of the day, mulch was spread out just in time for dismissal.  The school will continue to maintain the beautiful rain garden and the plant ID signs that the 4th and 5th graders made in class will be installed as the plants bloom.
One year later. 
This project was developed by Paw Paw School's students working with Cacapon Institute's Ben Alexandro and the Potomac Valley Audubon Society.  Funding for this project came from a NOAA-Bay Watershed Education and Training grant to Cacapon Institute and Friends of the Cacapon River.   

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