The Potomac Highlands Watershed School 

PHWS Projects 2012

Musselman High School, Inwood, WV Rain Garden

Spring Mills Middle School

Tree Planting and other Best Management Practices (BMPs)


At Spring Mills Middle School, 22 kids from the Science Club and their science teacher, Michelle Adams, planted 12 large ball and burlap trees, and planted a 1000 square foot area with wildflower seeds through Cacapon Institute’s Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds program.

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First, Cacapon Institute strengthened the students’ knowledge base using eSchool activities from the Potomac Highlands Watershed School.  Then, Outreach Coordinator Ben Alexandro taught them why trees and other plants are so important to the watershed.  Using a bin of bare soil and another covered in grass, watering cans and several stopwatches, the students set up experiments educating themselves about erosion and stormwater runoff.   They rolled balls down the hill to simulate runoff and to define the watershed area for the rain garden they would plant. Throughout the spring, the club learned about native trees and tree identification, and discovered benefits that trees and native plants provide.  They completed hands-on learning activities and completed an assessment of the school grounds.
The Science Club focused on advertising and PR for the events.  The students made lists of what materials were needed and where they were to be put. They created flyers to be taken home calling for volunteers, materials, and supplies.  The student leaders also made posters to be hung around the school.

On April 26th, six flowering dogwoods, three eastern redbuds, and two oak trees were planted, mulched, staked, and protected from deer rub along the north side of the parking lot.  One tulip poplar tree was planted on the southeast corner of the field.

Cam Trowbridge from Opequan Creek Project Team came out to volunteer along with a number of parents. Cam helped lead the tree planting portion.  Stakes were hammered in by hand then driven in further with a tamping bar. Trees were then secured with professional arbor ties.  Michelle Adams said that the principal loved the trees and boasted that it already improved the aesthetics of the school. The principal even came out and identified exactly where he wanted one of the trees planted.


Students also identified the area between the parking lot and the sidewalk as a pollution hotspot.  It is currently bare soil slowly eroding and becoming sediment.  The students scattered four bags of wildflower seeds along the 200 foot long bare ground area and covered it with a bale of hay.

While CI and the Science Club were working on the rain garden (link), seeding wildflowers, and the tree planting, another teacher was leading another group of students to plant flowers in front of the school, pick up trash, and beautify the area. 

Despite the fact that the trees were planted in surprisingly hard clay, everyone had a great time, all the projects were completed, and the school looked great. The teachers agreed to water the plants in the coming days, weeks, and over the summer months.   Spring Mills Middle school is excited to continue planning and implementing projects with Cacapon Institute in the future.