Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station | [Cooperative Extension of Morris County]

Student Outdoor Environmental Learning Project

Memorial Middle School, Hanover, Morris County, N.J.

3M Corporation Educational and Technical Assistance Grant provided to The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee

This project is to provide a multi-tiered participatory educational program to engage students, teachers, The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the community in a long-term project with educational, environmental and social gains. 

The project consists of the installation of rain gardens after a series of planned modules that help to tie ideas such as watersheds, stormwater, soils, native plants and pollinators to rain gardens and ultimately to maintenance of rain gardens.  Additionally there will be a rain barrel component that will further emphasize their knowledge of stormwater and disconnection, while allowing their artistic ability to shine.  The program will continue into the future as students maintain the rain garden from year to year and teachers introduce future classes to the site and the learning experiences.  Although located at the Memorial Junior School courtyard, an enclosed quadrangle, the facility and learning experience will be available to all students in grades 1-8 in the school district. 

The Goals identified in the grant are:

  • The program will begin with a teacher in-service training to assure that the educators are comfortable with the individual aspects of the Rain Garden Training.  This one-day training will be conducted by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and will be based on the Rain Garden Handbook for New Jersey Student Education.
  • Incorporation of the Handbook into the established curriculum.  The Handbook is developed to provide match points with the Core Curriculum Content Standards in New Jersey. 
  • An Environmental Club will be created to foster a dedicated group of students to take ownership of this project and become involved in other environmental activities.
  • The students can also have the impact of their learning increased by providing a “Teach-back” program or other school function, by teaching younger students about rain gardens and by presenting to the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee and perhaps the Township Environmental Commission. 
  • Watering and maintenance of the rain garden can be a role for the special education students, helping them to enjoy the role that plants provide in calming and restoring
  • Rain barrels can be built and painted by students for the school, and they can design flyers to send home to their parents discussing the benefits of rain barrels illustrated with their own decorated rain barrels.