By Shelli-Kae Foster
Rain gardens, water quality, climate change and what we can do to improve our water were all topics of discussion for the 11 YES! students who attended the YES! Winter Workshop at Northland Arboretum on March 5, 2019. Coralee Fox, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener in Crow Wing County, kicked off the day. She provided an in-depth look at what a rain garden is and its importance in filtering out “yuck” before it goes into local bodies of water. Cora outlined how to calculate the correct size for a rain garden for your property based on the area of impervious surface, and what plants to grow for best filtering based on soil, sunlight, color, and seasons. Cora then challenged the students to get busy calculating how big of a rain garden their school would need to help filter out the run-off. The students determined that they would need a 1,200 square foot rain garden. Next, the students had a lively discussion of where to place the rain garden. They had to take many things into consideration such as where drain spouts are located, where they like to play football and other outdoor activities that they did not want to interfere with, along with other considerations. It was determined that 2 smaller rain gardens would be better than one large one. They will follow up with Cora to pick the best plants for the garden and she offered to help determine how many to plant.
After lunch, Jenna Totz from Climate Generation led the students in a discussion on the difference between weather and climate. Jenna explained that weather is what is going on right now outside and climate is what is going on year-round in your region. To further illustrate her point, used clothing as an example of how to compare climate and weather by stating, “Weather is what you wear; Climate is your whole closet.” Students participated in a gallery walk, a Biome Meet and Greet, and a robust discussion on “what we can do to help the planet.” Ideas included: use less energy, eat fresh and local foods, reduce, reuse, recycle, walk, bike and take a bus.
When asked what one student enjoyed about the day, she commented, ”Working with a partner to plan a rain garden, it’s really exciting. ” Another student added, ”It’s really fun – learning about the earth and helping to save its resources.”