One of Howard Community College’s campus streams is about to receive a significant face-lift, thanks to a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, expertise from local organizations and businesses, and assistance from a very special group of volunteers: middle school students.
The yearlong project to restore the college's central stream kicked off this fall, with over 100 students from Bonnie Branch, Clarksville, and Patapsco Middle Schools spending a day on campus removing invasive plant species, planting trees, and clearing debris from the stream's bank. By the time the project is completed in late 2014, over 400 middle schoolers will have visited campus to take part in the stream's restoration. This unique educational partnership between HCC and the three middle schools allows students to learn about the science of hydrology, native plants, and stormwater retention in their classrooms before taking field trips to campus to participate in hands-on activities.
Guiding the students during these trips will be young adults from the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) program, which provides green jobs for young adults through the installation of rain gardens and conservation landscapes throughout Howard County. HCC students and staff will also assist in the restoration, as will experts from The Tech Group, Inc., a Millersville-based civil engineering firm, and Village Gardeners, a Libertytown-based landscape design company. Additional community groups and organizations will be invited to visit the project site throughout the year.
Their combined efforts will result in a number of improvements to the central stream and surrounding areas, all designed to improve the stream’s water quality and reduce the quantity and velocity of water leaving the property. Modern conservation practices will be implemented to improve the stream’s ability to handle periodic storm events, and provide a natural habitat for wildlife that encourages educational opportunities for observation and measurement. Signage and other media will be installed during and after the restoration to explain to students and the community the benefits of the project.
HCC was awarded funding for the project through Governor Martin O’Malley’s Stream Restoration Challenge, which provides grants to local government and non-government organizations in an effort to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and create service-learning and environmental literacy activities for middle and high school students.
To learn more about Governor O'Malley's Stream Restoration Challenge and how other organizations are participating, click here.