Day 3: October 6th, 2012
Day 4: October 7th, 2012
On October 5th, 2012
Our bog creation project at Daniels Run Elementary School was funded by a watershed grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The site was a problem area adjacent to a playground with a compacted clay foundation. After a rain event, water collected here and stood for numerous days. Lands and Waters and Daniels Run decided this was an excellent opportunity to create a bog-type wetland using stormwater runoff, turning a problematic area into an ecosystem that students can study.
Our first step was to create a berm that would deflect the water from the foundation of the nearby trailer.
Building blocks: our hardworking team member Phillip uses precast concrete blocks and re-purposes them to create a wall.
Phillip them creates a gentle slop away from the wall with the existing clay that was in the area.
The students of Daniels Run, eager to lend a hand, skirted recess time to help us compact the clay slope.
Students help us move soil
Here we see the bog at work after a rain event! The berm is effectively draining water more quickly than before. Phase one is completed.
Next, we must evcavate out in a basin shaped pool, place in exploratory structures to encourage student engagement (while protecting protecting flora and fauna), amend excavated clay by mixing it with composted leaf mulch, and create a ponding area of no more than 4 inches. Finally, we will plant with native riparian herbaceous plants — our favorites are swamp milkweed, cardinal flower, turtlehead, joe pyeweed, and great blue lobelia. Whew, there is still much to do! But we’re off to a wonderful start.
For a project funded by a generous National Fish and Wildlife grant, we begin breaking ground on a series of stormwater projects at Daniels Run Elementary in Fairfax, Virginia.
Day 1: September 29th, 2012
Breaking ground on a vernal pool construction project!
Something tells me this isn’t the first time we’ve lost Kris down a hole…
Kris pulled out a few volunteers that eagerly inhabited the hole that was used to check the soil profile and test percolation. I guess they are impatiently awaiting their new home! We relocated a few pickerel frogs (Lithobates palustris) to a nearby constructed wetland that was part of an earlier schoolyard greening project.
Relocating natives — we work to find new homes for the goldenrod and chestnut oaks that were at the site of our vernal pool creation project.
All in a days work! Digging out a vernal pool by hand (aka people-power) requires a lot of physical labor.
Day 2: September 30th, 2012
[ Creating a Vernal Pool at Daniels Run ES (Part 2) ]
Fall Vegetable Garden Planting
This semester, Kimball’s second grade students are focusing on plants. Joined by volunteers from the Washington Center, the Lands and Waters team helped engage students and reinforce their classroom lessons by leading a fall planting in their schoolyard vegetable garden.
The soil has been weeded and rich leaf compost has been turned in, now the students line-up and prepare to plant! Close observation of lettuce seeds reveal creative descriptors from the students — “raindrops” and “bugs” fill tiny palms.
Finally, each student gets a turn to gently scratch their seeds into the soil.
Kimball ES Community Forest: Schoolyard Biodiversity Explorations
While exploring the Kimball Community Forest, students roll over logs to reveal the abundance of life beneath them. Surveying their schoolyard biodiversity as discovery-based learning helps to teach students to explore and analyze the world around them.
Through the trees — there are many taboos associated with the woods. Learning to love the “wild” is sometimes a re-learning process, especially for children more familiar with an urban jungle.
Garden Surprises and Teachable Moments
While preparing the garden beds for planting, we find a monarch caterpillar voraciously munching on honeyvine leaves (Ampelamus albidus). Closer inspection revealed numerous caterpillars stealthy camouflaged among the vines.
We gathered them up, planning to rear them back at the office. Only 1% of the monarch eggs laid make it to become butterflies, so they need all the help they can get! A cozy home in captivity, lazily munching on milkweed leaves, greatly reduces the threats of parasitism and predators.
Our caterpillars will transform into one of these magnificent butterflies! Then they will make their long, obstacle-filled migration to Mexico, on those fierce yet fragile wings.
[Update — All eight of our caterpillars successfully emerged from their chrysalis! They were then released to begin their long journey south. Sadly, one monarch’s wings did not develop properly and she was not releasable. As luck would have it, she’ll live out her days in Christine’s apartment, slurping down boxes of apple juice.]
Monarch caterpillars are collected and kept in a box for temporary safe-keeping. They provide a delightful “teachable moment” in which students learn about life cycles and migrations. One of those wonderfully impromptu lessons we embrace as environmental educators.
Three years ago, Lands and Waters partnered with Lanier Middle School to create a living classroom in their turf-dominated courtyard. The objective was to create a forested area to provide habitat for organisms that would use the vernal pool ecosystem, such as amphibians and invertebrates. We wanted to create examples of ecosystems — a bog, plantings representative of upland woodland forest, a riparian area, a meadow, a vernal pool, a pollinator garden and finally a vegetable garden was added last spring by the hardworking members of the Eco-club.
The courtyard is opened to all disciplines but the Eco-club is at the heart of the maintaining and enhancing courtyard. Lanier’s Eco-club meets twice a week this year — primary activities evolve around the courtyard and the school’s recycling program.
This year projects:
Eco-club students investigate the vernal pool habitat in their courtyard.
Water samples collected from the vernal pool to test for water quality parameters and macroinvertebrates.
Eco-club students use microscopes to look for macroinvertebrates and other microscopic life forms.
Teamwork! Students working together to load and haul fresh gravel for the dry-bed stream.
Students help to put in a low area that runs through the courtyard to conduct water to two internal drains.
Ms. Alam, science teacher and Eco-club leader, picks the last of the summer tomatoes before they are killed by frost.
September plantings of radish come to harvest.
Sunday, September 16th 2012
The Kimball Community Forest was in need of some weeding and mulching. We may like our landscapes wild, but others do not always agree. With our natives under threat of weed whacking, along came the Cornell Alumni to the rescue!
In partnership with Greater DC Cares, members of the Cornell alumni volunteer annually with Lands and Waters for one of their numerous community workdays.
Tackling the mulch pile
Cornell alumni and trip leader, Odette — working so hard she breaks our tools!
Veteran volunteers stand among the trees they planted last year.
Welcome to the Lands and Waters blog!