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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Lafayette, California, USA

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Lafayette, California, USA
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Registered: May 2010
City/Town/Province: Lafayette
Posts: 1
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I constructed a rain garden at Springhill Elementary School in Lafayette. The garden reduces standing water after heavy storms and uses the runoff to water the plants for a long period of time. The garden mainly consists of California native plants that are ideal for shady and wet environments. The plants add a splash of color to the scenery and attract wildlife. The garden transforms the former mosquito breeding grounds into a place of beauty. It can also be used as a teaching tool for the students of Springhill. Science classes can learn to appreciate the importance of preserving not only California natives but conserving the whole planet Earth. Not only did I create the garden, but I made a how to pamphlet about rain gardens so others can try to create a garden of their own. Originally I had planned to spend more time raising money, but I found that my fundraising would take much longer than the actual project. I decided to just use my own funds for all the materials. I also didnít have to spend very much time watering the plants because the rain took care of that for me. I also did not make a bench like I had originally planned because I found that there was just not enough space for a bench in or around the garden. Instead of taking up space with a bench I covered more ground with the actual garden and planted more plants than I expected. I also planned to make a plant guide, but instead made a how-to rain garden pamphlet so others could make their own rain gardens. Moving the dirt to the garden site was a labor intensive task so I gathered some Acalanes volunteers that needed to fulfill their community service requirements to help me with some of the work. I had to coordinate a good time for all of us to work and I had to instruct the volunteers about where the dirt was supposed to go and what the final project was supposed to look like. I constantly had to contact Ms. Brast, the science teacher at Springhill, to ask for permission to work on the garden because the school wants to know who is on their campus at all times.

Students attending Springhill and people taking strolls in Briones can see the pretty flowers and plants in the garden. The amount of standing water is reduced and the site is no longer a potential mosquito breeding grounds. This benefits our communityís health and safety from the spread of West Nile Virus and most importantly protects the children of our community. The garden is a tranquil place ideal for relaxation on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Students can also learn more about the importance of conserving our California natives. My rain garden brochures will inspire people to go out and create their own rain gardens to further conserve our environment and save the earth from the harmful effects of erosion.

The most successful aspect was working with the science teacher at Springhill. She was very responsive and flexible. I am also very pleased with my how to make a rain garden brochure and was very excited to see that people were interested in creating their own gardens. Although I sent in my proposal very early because I thought the changes in the Girl Scout councils would affect my Gold Award, I did not actually start my project until months after the proposal was approved. I would definitely finish the project earlier and make time in my busy schedule to work on the garden more often. The site that I chose for the garden was ideal because it did collect rainwater, but the soil is like clay and very hard to work with. The soil is healthy because a large population of worms is present, but the clay like soil is not the best place for the California natives. I would also plant in the middle of fall instead of the beginning of winter because some of the plants died due to the harsh conditions. I donít know why I chose a project that included gardening because I definitely do not have a green thumb and I know nothing about plants. I compared the pictures of the site from before I planted to after I planted and found that the changes were astounding. I transformed a little patch of dirt to a beautiful garden full of flowers and wildlife. The amount of standing water is greatly reduced by the garden. The soil is full of moisture and nutrients because there are a ton of worms and the plants look healthy. When I am working on the garden on the weekends, people from the Briones trail are very curious and want to find out more about the garden project. I gave them a brochure or informed them about rain gardens and how they are unique compared to other gardens. The Acalanes volunteers loved gardening and were extremely enthusiastic even though they just moved some dirt around. They brought additional tools and were very excited to put on their gardening outfits. Even though the garden is completed and now only requires periodic maintenance, they still ask me if they can work on the garden again in the future.

I learned how to push myself to complete a task. I also learned how to better manage my time. If I work without concrete deadlines I find it more difficult to complete activities and I work harder if someone else is forcing me to get the job done. When I make deadlines for myself and the consequences arenít very harsh I donít make my best effort to complete my objectives. I know I can meet deadlines because of my work on yearbook staff this year, but those consequences might endanger the quality of our yearbook. Unlike working on yearbook, my gold award revolved around my own timeline and my own deadlines, which were usually subject to change. I learned a lot about rain gardens and just gardening in general. I learned that it is very important to plant at the right time and to pick the right plants to plant when considering the surrounding environment. I also loved how the stepping-stones turned out because I did not know how to work with concrete before this project.

Environmental protection has always been my priority because of my motherís influence but I have never had a concrete reason why I should save nature until I hiked up to the top of that mountain and gazed across the hidden landscape. This serene, natural beauty needs to be preserved and this project has inspired me to volunteer for the National Park Service in order to conserve and protect our natural wonders of America. Protection cannot stop at America, but this crucial issue needs to be spread to the world. I want to influence all nations to protect their unique wildlife and natural resources for the enjoyment of everyone. If mankind continues this cycle of self-destruction, the world as we know it will cease to exist. Only humans will be able to survive in a polluted world with ocean size landfills. Humans need to learn how to adapt to the environment instead of making the world adapt to us. At the age of 19 I do not have a definite path towards pursuing a degree in environmental studies, but I would like to further increase my knowledge in the sciences. Of course my ultimate dream would be to terminate global warming, but at this time in my life I am still unsure of the answer. However, my journey to find the answer starts with research and study at the University of California Berkeley.
Date: May 26, 2010 ∑ Views: 3055 ∑ File size: 70.1kb, 792.4kb: 2500 x 1875 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 150
Volunteers: 6
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19
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