Readlyn Elementary and City of Readlyn Wetland Project
Grant Award: $4,930
The City of Readlyn received funding from the State Revolving Fund and IDALS Water Quality Initiative funding to improve water quality runoff by converting agricultural land on the south side of town into a wetland. Runoff water from two thirds of the City of Readlyn and several acres of farm land drains into the newly constructed wetland. Fifth grade students from Readlyn Elementary School were awarded a Watershed Guardian Grant to improve the City wetland project by planting Native Prairie plugs. Prairie plug planting will speed up the establishment of native species and help reduce erosion on the newly constructed wetland. Twenty-five 5th grade students were involved in developing the planting project including species selection and placement. Twenty-four students along with over 20 adult volunteers form a variety of organizations helped plant over 4,000 native prairie plants as part of a community planting event. Fairbank Elementary teachers and County Conservation Board Naturalists will continue to use the site for educational purposes such as plant identification and monarch tagging.
Oelwein Middle School Prairie and Outdoor Learning Space
Grant Award: $1,000
Oelwein Middle School students expanded their existing native prairie located on the school campus. The current prairie was lacking diversity in forbs, so they planted a pollinator seed enhancement mix after burning the existing prairie this spring (2021). They also made the prairie larger, by adding approximately 0.5 acres of additional native planting adjacent to the existing prairie. Additional live prairie plugs were also planted to speed up the beautification of the existing prairie. The middle school students also planted a couple of plum trees and a Burr Oak tree to provide shade and diversity in the existing tree species on the school campus. This project greatly increases water infiltration at the site, which improves water quality and reduces erosion in this area.
Edgewood-Colesburg Raingarden Project
Grant Award: $4,985
High school students at Edgewood-Colesburg implemented a large rain garden and native planting to help capture and filter runoff from a newly installed gravel parking lot. Before project implementation a large amount of water was running off of the new parking lot into a nearby drainage way. Over 50 students helped with the development and installation of the rain garden. The school also received support from community members, who provided materials and machine power, and from their local Natural Resource Conservation Service office who provided knowledge and advice in plant establishment. Students continue to maintain the garden by weed pulling. Educators plan to continue to utilize the project as a unique outdoor learning space.
Sumner Fredericksburg Rain Barrel and Native Planting Project
Grant Award: $1,282
Fredericksburg Elementary students implemented a butterfly garden with rain barrels at their school. The project was developed and implemented by Talented and Gifted High School students, and approximately 50 3rd and 4th grade students during the 2020-2021 school year. The garden and rain barrels add a unique learning resource for educators in the school. Teacher’s plan to use the garden and rain barrels when teaching their students about pollinators and the water cycle. Elementary students will continue to maintain the gardens by watering and weeding them. The project greatly increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the ground and helps capture rain water via the rain barrels. The rain barrels provide a water source for teachers to use in their curriculum and to use to water the pollinator garden.
Winneshiek County Conservation Lake Meyer Improvement
Grant Award: $2,800
Winneshiek County Conservation Board project used prairie plantings as an experiential learning opportunity for students to learn about stormwater management, and how water quality can be impacted by land use and vegetation type. The planting site was Lake Meyer – a county park area that was being renovated to reduce sedimentation into the lake. Lake Meyer is one of the few lakes in Northeastern Iowa. Lake restoration work created 3 construction sites that were well suited for re-vegetation with prairie plantings.
In October 2020 a group of homeschool students gathered for two planting sessions with prairie seeds and cover crops. Students and parents broadcast seed by hand and learned about the Lake Meyer watershed and about stormwater management from county naturalists. The homeschool coordinator made excellent connections with other field trips & curricula that this group has been involved with.
In May 2021 5th grade students from Decorah Middle School planted and mulched 300 prairie plugs as part of a service project during their field trip to Lake Meyer. These students made connections between their planting work and their other field trip activities such as pond study, local geology, and fishing. Students enjoyed learning about the flowers and pollinators associated with some of the plants they helped establish at Lake Meyer. A total of 125 students assisted with the planting component of this project.
South Winneshiek Middle School Native Planting Project
Grant Award: $500
South Winneshiek middle school students implemented a native butterfly garden outside of their school in a high visibility area. Due to COVID-19 not many students were able to help implement the project, but educators plan to use the area for outdoor education in the future. Students also plan to implement more native plantings throughout the school campus. Students will also be responsible for maintaining the project site by pulling weeds until the native plants have time to establish.
Postville Middle School Tree Planting Project
Grant Award: $450
Project coordinator worked with Postville middle school students to plant 4 additional trees at the Regional Urban Stormwater Demonstration Site. Students planted two plum trees that replaced two fruit trees that did not survive the harsh Iowa winter. They also planted two non-fruit trees at the RUSD Site. Postville 5th grade students learned how to properly plant a tree, about the many benefits trees provide to pollinators, and how they increase water infiltration. Over 50 students took part in the tree planting.
Cherry Hill 4H Community Tree Give Away
Grant Award: $1,800
The Cherry Valley Chums 4H group conducted a community tree give away. Ten 4H members developed and implemented a tree give away event at two local farmers markets in Northeast Iowa. Market goers entered their name in to a random drawing to win a tree. People who signed up to win a tree also learned about the importance of trees in urban stormwater conservation, water quality improvement and flood reduction. Fifteen trees were awarded, providing added water infiltration throughout the communities of Decorah and Postville.
Central Elkader Tree Planting Project
Grant Award: $540
Forty Central Elkader high school students partnered with Clayton County Conservation to rehabilitate a natural area at Osborne Nature Center. The Nature Center was experiencing erosion into Osborne Pond from a nearby hill. In order to protect the pond from sedimentation and to improve water quality, students planted trees on the hillside to help hold the soil in place. Students learned how to plant trees and the importance trees play in stormwater management and erosion control. Students hope to add additional trees to the area through an annual Earth Day planting event.