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East Rockford Middle School

Summary
The ERMS Earth Keepers are continuing to generate new, creative ideas to improve the health of the Rogue River watershed while beautifying downtown Rockford and educating the greater community. This year, the 6th grade students are interested in eradicating Phragmites, an aggressive, invasive grass that crowds out native plants and animals, blocks shoreline views and reduces access for swimming, fishing, and hunting. The area of most concern is a 10 acre waterfront parcel owned by the City of Rockford for public enjoyment and recreation that is currently overrun by Phragmites. This year, ERMS and the City of Rockford are working with contractors to eliminate the Phragmites with herbicide, beginning with a 2,000 square foot site on the White Pine Trail.

This spring, the Earth Keepers will be responsible for revegetating the site to ensure the Phragmites will not return. While eradication of Phragmites is the main goal, there will be numerous ecologically and community benefits to the project as well. Because the students will be replanting the site with 3,000 native plants, the new garden will support an array of native butterflies and birds, treat stormwater runoff before entering the river, turn an unsightly area into a beautiful garden, and continue our efforts to educate the community about watershed issues. Another added benefit is the location along the White Pine Trail.  A study from Michigan State University found that the White Pine Trail had 54,096 users in the summer of 2005 and 588 users a day. This new garden along with educational signage would complement the 3,000 square foot bioswale that was implemented in this area last year just a few yards down the trail.

Fostering Lifelong Stewardship
The students treated the Phragmites like the enemy it is and wanted to eradicate more than we had planned. Many students shared in our wrap up session that they would now keep an eye out for invasive species on their own properties and get rid of it. Most of our students are paying attention to their waterways and the erosion that may be happening as well as the runoff that is draining directly into them. They have realized that if we want these great resources, we each have to take an active role in protecting them.

Number of Students
52

Number of Teachers
3

Partners
Trout Unlimited
City of Rockford

Funders
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Tags
stormwater, runoff, native vegetation

Summary
East Rockford Middle School committed to managing storm water runoff and related non-point source pollution in the Rogue River watershed. In September and October, 120 7th graders worked with Trout Unlimited on an educational program called the Leaf Pack Network to assess water quality, the importance of healthy natural systems, and how to collect and analyze stream data. 6th graders took this one step further by implementing practices that prevent nonpoint source pollutants from entering the Rogue River in the City of Rockford and educating our community on the effects of storm water runoff. In December, students presented their project proposal to the city at a council meeting. They proposed to plant 2 native vegetation gardens in downtown Rockford and carry out a student-led rain barrel workshop. In April, 6th graders hosted a community rain barrel making workshop and then in May taught all ERMS 6th graders about the use of rain barrels. 42 rain barrels were sold to community members and sales continue today. In May, students planted 3,500 plants in a native revegetation garden in downtown Rockford to address the runoff from 3 parking areas. Community members assisted students in this endeavor and signage will be added this summer.

Showcase Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk8big6-Xoc

Number of Students
172

Number of Teachers
3

Partners
Trout Unlimited

Funders
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Tags
stormwater, runoff, NPS pollution, native vegetation, rain barrel

District
Rockford Public Schools

School Website
http://www.rockfordschools.org/?i=eastrockford

View Project Photos