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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Avon Grove Charter School, West Grove, Pennsylvania, USA

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Avon Grove Charter School, West Grove, Pennsylvania, USA
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Registered: November 2012
City/Town/Province: West Grove
Posts: 1
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My name is Liam Odle, and I am currently a junior at the Avon Grove Charter School in West Grove, Pennsylvania where I have been involved in the school’s “Green Initiative” since my freshman year. In this program, we work on various projects around our schools campus such as removing invasive species and planting native trees. In addition, AGCS students such as myself have the opportunity to take environmental science courses during the school day, and participate in restoration projects after school with the “Green Initiative.” Our school campus is fairly large at about 23 acres, and over the past several years we have slowly worked to restore the wildlife habitat, plant hundreds of native trees, and to make our campus a greener, more interesting place.
Last year, I became the first AGCS student to be selected for the “Dockstader Conservation Internship” which is an opportunity for students interested in the environment. The internship is sponsored by a local foundation and requires the participants to read the work of important environmental thinkers such as William Bartram, who is especially important because of his local connections to Chester County, PA. The interns are also expected to take leadership position in completing an on campus project. I would like to study environmental engineering in college, and I was excited about doing work on campus which would create a lasting impression for both the environment and future students of AGCS.

Project area

My project was centered on a two acre section of the AGCS campus which were heavily eroded and had been neglected for decades. These areas were extremely muddy in the winter, and in the summer it was often dry and dusty. The soil in this area was mostly“fill dirt” which consists of red clay, asphalt chips, and road waste. It was one of the worst looking areas on campus, not to mention that it created a storm water run off problem. This was mostly do to the fact that storm water could not be absorbed by the hard packed soil. This presents the problem of the water running off with pollutants from the roads and parking lot into a small stream that is located in south west corner of our property.


The main focus of my project was to build artificial wetland to both provide a good habitat for wildlife around our school and to address the run off problem I described above. I was essentially building a very large rain garden with several shallow ponds spread out over a two acre radius. The ponds encourage wildlife to visit the area and the large planted areas around the ponds catch runoff and enable storm water to sink into the soil more naturally. These ponds also act as a habitat for various endangered and threatened fish species that we have placed in them.

When it rains heavily, the storm water will run into the wetland area along a ditch or “swale” at the center of the project area. The most important part of creating the wetland was digging into the poor, compacted soil and replacing it with compost, biochar (a type of charcoal) and literally tons of much in order to rejuvenate the soil to a the point that we can plant a wide variety of wetland plants in these areas. Once the area soil had improved and was not washing away, I planted trees, native grasses, and wildflowers. By the end of the project, the project area had changed so much that it was almost unrecognizable.

Importance and Benefits

I am very exited that I was able to provide good habitat for both plants and animals that call our campus home. The land surrounding our school is constantly being developed, and fields and forest are being destroyed. My project created at least one small patch of land which will always remain wild. I hope that the youngest Avon Grove Charter School students will be able to enjoy the wetland for a very long time, and that my project will encourage them to better appreciate the natural world. Finally, I hope that my project will capture millions of gallons of storm water runoff before it reaches the small stream that runs along the border of our campus. In a small way, I hope my project will help keep our watershed a bit cleaner. This project has enriched my life by teaching me about the value of native plants and the important role they play in the wetland ecosystems. It also helped me understand why wetland ecosystems are so valuable, and why their destruction and elimination can have a deep impact on our lakes, rivers, and our area’s biodiversity.
· Date: December 30, 2012 · Views: 2097 · File size: 20.7kb, 2567.3kb · : 3664 x 2748 ·
Hours Volunteered: 160
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 7 to 65
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 1
Native Trees Planted: 75
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