Rain Garden Chicago

During WEF’s eighth annual service project, volunteers will build a new outdoor classroom with permeable pavers, natural landscaping, and rain gardens that can provide multiple teaching opportunities.

On September 26, the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) Students and Young Professionals Committee will host its eighth annual service project, “The Pershing Cultivation Project: Growing Green Gardens and Young Minds.” At this year’s project, held at Pershing Magnet School in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, volunteers will construct a rain garden and an outdoor classroom that will serve as an educational platform for the school’s K–8 students to learn about water, the environment, and green infrastructure. Local firm Christy Weber Landscapes is designing and donating the 2015 service project. On site, volunteers will make the design a reality, building a seating area for an outdoor classroom, a rain garden to capture stormwater runoff, and a large garden filled with native prairie grasses and flowers. WEF also will provide teachers with lesson plans to accompany the learning garden.

Since its start in 2008, WEF’s community service project has grown from just 30 volunteers to more than 100 in New Orleans in 2014. Each year, the projects have become larger, with more participants and significantly greater improvements for the local community.

On September 25, at Pershing Magnet School, WEF also will host the third annual Water Palooza educational fair to engage community members as well as local students and teachers with a variety of hands-on, environmental activities provided by water sector companies, governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations. At the 2014 Water Palooza event in New Orleans, more than 600 students learned about the water environment and their effects on local waterbodies.

Funding for the service project is provided entirely by donations and sponsorships. The project subcommittee plans to raise more than $20,000 for the construction of the learning garden and to support the Water Palooza educational fair. For this project, both monetary and material donations are needed, including pavers, plants, grasses, soil, mulch, equipment, and pipe as well as site preparation and delivery. Learn more or contact WEF’s Senior Manager of Association Engagement Dianne Crilley at DCrilley@wef.org regarding volunteering and donations.