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Sparta Area Schools

Summary
Students restored the banks of Nash Creek with native plants to protect the banks from erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat, and educate the community how beautiful, yet functional landscaping with native plants can be (even in their own yards!) Community groups partnered with our classes to prepare the banks, clear the site, plant native wildflowers, grasses, trees, and shrubs, and maintain them.

The area is located between Sparta Library and a village park, connected by pedestrian bridge. Greg Busse’s 6th and 7th grade students will perform water quality monitoring. Kerry McKinley’s high school biology class will put native plant identification on the village website. (Mrs. Blackall’s third grade class presented the proposal to the village and township councils.) During Town and Country Days, 2017, students will have a booth explaining the project.

Fostering Lifelong Stewardship
The Sparta community was largely uninformed about Nash Creek and the role we have in the watershed we live in. They can see the beauty of native plants while providing habitat and protecting the stream. (We have found that adults need to see the results of native plants, before they incorporate them on their own property.) The project has been published in the “Sparta Today” 3 times and on MLive.

I am at the site often and see community members most of the time. I have seen students proudly tour the project with their families. Every single child or teen has tiptoed around seedlings while they fish or explore. Many people have approach me about the project while I water or weed. Often they ask where they can get native plants for themselves. There are 3 well used soccer fields, but very little trash left behind. When I commented to the director of the Department of Public Works how many people come to Nash Creek daily and how respectful and peaceful they seem, he said, “That’s because everyone knows about it now.”

This is the first year we have planted off school grounds. We have seen vandalism and trash drop off significantly since we started native plants projects in 2008. Now, we are seeing this respect for nature expand into the community. We expect to see more native plants in the community.

Number of Students
450
Number of Teachers
3

Partners
Sparta Rotary
Sparta Boy Scouts
Sparta Girl Scouts
Kent Conservation District
Summit Tree Service
Afton Excavating
Sparta Village, DPW
Community members
Landscape architect Mike Bruggink
Trout Unlimited
Designs by Nature
Rogers Hardware

Funders
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Tags
stormwater, runoff, NPS pollution, streambank restoration, erosion, native revegetation

Summary
Our classes planted about 3,500 native plants on both sides of a ditch located between the parking lot and back field of a ball diamond at Sparta Middle School. The ditch is about 140 yards long and 8 yards wide. Stormwater exits from the ditch to Rogue River. Students investigated the effect native plants have on water quality and habitat restoration in a storm water ditch. Through persuasion letters and short presentations to local governments and other classrooms, they persuaded others to help restore habitat and their watershed by planting native plants. They experienced identifying a problem in their community and being empowered to solve it.

Showcase Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHPPTcqgBpA

Number of Students
175

Number of Teachers
3

Partners
Peace Lutheran Church
Designs by Nature
Sparta Village Water Department

Funders
Baldwin Foundation

Tags
native revegetation, stormwater, habitat restoration, community engagement

District
Sparta Area Schools

School Website
http://www.spartaschools.org/

View Project Photos