By YES! Coordinator Kristine Madsen
Members of St. Cloud North Jr. High YES! Team gathered together 130 6th-8th grade students on May 6 to plant a 9,000 square-foot native rain garden on the school grounds. For the YES! students, the planning of the garden began months in advance of planting day.
The YES! students chose the rain garden project because they wanted to beautify the school grounds as well as capture, channel, divert, and make the most of the natural rain and snow that falls on the property. The students chose plants that are best for the local climate, soil and water conditions at the school. The plants, a selection of wetland edge vegetation such as wildflowers, sedges, rushes, shrubs and small trees, will take up excess water flowing into the rain garden instead of flowing into the storm drains. The garden will enhance the water quality in the area, reduce erosion, and absorb runoff pollution.
Bre Bauerly of Minnesota Native Landscapes and YES! coach Maggie Lukens secured the budget from the school and YES!, and obtained additional funding from the Sauk River Watershed District and Wild Ones for more plants, shrubs, and future project maintenance. Minnesota Native Landscapes helped to create a custom seed mix to withstand the variable moisture conditions within the planting area, and students selected hardy plug species that could tolerate periodic flooding due to rain water collection as well as occasional drought during the dry parts of the summer.
Bauerly states, “This project was really a collaboration of efforts combined with generous contributions from the Sauk River Watershed District and Wild Ones. The students did their research and picked out plant species that would thrive in the rain garden setting while providing season long benefits for various pollinator species.”
“It was so fun to see the students get excited about this project. They took the planting and seeding very seriously, and I could tell they were concerned about the long term success of the project. They really understood the goals of the restoration, and I can’t wait for them to see the first monarch caterpillar or bumble bee visiting the garden.”
Minnesota Native Landscapes is a full service ecological restoration company with services ranging from native seeding and prescribed burning to bio-engineering and everything in between. In addition to their extensive installation and land management services, they also produce some of the finest locally grown native seed and plants available.
Also volunteering and donating to the project was Greg Shirley, from the St. Cloud Chapter of Wild Ones.