Elynn Anderson ’10: Environmental Studies/Management Studies concentration
Emily Heninger ’10: Environmental Studies/English
Katie Staver ’10: Environmental Studies/Biology
Program: Academic Civic Engagement
Class: Environmental Studies Senior Seminar (ES 399)
Project: Rain Garden
Please describe your project.
For our project, we researched and eventually built a rain garden, which is a sloped garden built to catch and absorb rainwater, preventing waterway contamination and flooding. We created an informational brochure--to be distributed around the Northfield area--that explains how to construct and plant a residential rain garden. Then we built a rain garden at the home of a St. Olaf faculty member, Erica Zweifel, using native plants such as black-eyed susans, coneflowers, and little bluestem grass. We are hoping that next year's environmental studies senior seminar will continue the project so that more community members may soon have rain gardens in their yards.
How did you have an impact? What was your greatest contribution?
Most importantly, we hope that by disseminating general information about rain gardens via our brochure, we will spark interest in the idea and prompt more community members to build their own rain gardens. More rain gardens means less rainfall runoff and less waterway contamination, so the more people who have one in their yards, the better. By building a rain garden ourselves, we demonstrated how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to create a garden that will positively impact your community--and help it look beautiful at the same time! Along with the brochures, the tangible nature of our garden will hopefully spark further interest in the project and lead to more rain garden construction.
How did this experience change you?
It was great to stick our hands in the mud and get dirty during this project! It was very satisfying to see the tangible results of our hard work in the form of a garden that will last for years to come. Even after we have graduated from St. Olaf and moved on to different communities, it is rewarding to know that our work will continue here in Northfield, both in the garden that we built ourselves and in the gardens that community members will hopefully build in the future. In addition, we formed a wonderful relationship with our community partner, Erica Zweifel, who was extremely helpful throughout the entire process and very willing to let us experiment in her front yard. All in all, we were thankful for the opportunity to get out of the library and into the fresh air to make our community more sustainable.