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Immanuel Lutheran School Receives EPA Grant, Installs Rain Gardens

Students, teachers and volunteers installed rain gardens at two storm drain sites on the school's campus. The gardens were funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Editor's Note: The following is a release written by .

Students at in can add environmental stewardship to the lessons they learned this school year.
 
About 110 students, teachers and adult volunteers recently installed rain gardens at two storm drain sites on the school's campus. The gardens, which will filter pollution and prevent erosion from storm water run-off, were funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  
 
"This has been a wonderful way for our students and staff to learn about and protect the environment around us," said Allison Dolak, Immanuel's principal. "We're excited to use this resource to educate our students about the gifts God has given us."
 
On Friday, May 18, Immanuel students completed the installation by planting 180 deep-rooted perennial plants Missouri at the two sites. The perennials included plants that are native to Missouri and native cultivars—plants that have been bred to possess certain characteristics. The students installed the plants in a special "rain garden" soil mixture made up sand, compost and top soil. Rain gardens filter pollutants found in storm water run-off from lawns, sidewalks and rooftops. The gardens also infiltrate water into the ground, reduce stream erosion and add beauty to the community. Immanuel's rain gardens are located between the school and a new gymnasium. 
 
"With the new construction, we saw that we had an opportunity to practice good stewardship of our land and resources," said Susan Maag, the project's coordinator. 

Maag, a landscape architect and member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, began the grant application process about eight months ago. She obtained letters of support from the St. Charles County and St. Louis County Soil & Water Conservation District and Show Me Rain Gardens.

"It's been a great learning experience for both the students and our congregation," said Maag.

The grant—known as a "319 mini-grant"—is designed to help communities develop solutions for non-point source pollution for storm water runoff. The program, which is funded by the U.S. EPA and administered locally through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, also requires recipients to track the impact of their project on the community.

Earlier this year, Maag conducted the first of two surveys to determine what Immanuel's students, parents and staff knew about rain gardens. This fall, she'll conduct a second to survey to find out what they've learned since the installation.  

Immanuel's teachers are already looking for ways to incorporate the gardens into their curriculums this fall. Dolak says when the students return from summer break, they'll begin measuring plant growth and rainfall on a regular basis.

"We are blessed to have this hands-on educational opportunity for our students," Dolak said.

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