Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Longfellow Elementary 5th Graders Talk Healthy Lawn Care

The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) was excited to work teach 5th graders at Longfellow Elementary School about Youth YardScaping this year. 2017 marks the third year students have learned how to grow a healthy lawn while keeping Capisic Brook clean. For one month the students learned about healthy lawn care practices and alternatives to harmful fertilizer and weed and bug killers. On June 4th they demonstrated their knowledge by educating community members at their annual Spring Fair. 

A look inside Youth YardScaping...

The 5th graders started the program by venturing on a walking field trip from the Longfellow School to Capisic Pond. As natural observers, the students took note of possible pollutants, storm drain locations, and where they thought the water may flow next.  Once at the pond, they put their science caps on to conduct water quality assessments, experiment with stormwater models, and participate in various nature games.

Checking out storm drains on the walk to Capisic Pond.

Back in the class room, the students were split into 12 groups and assigned a healthy lawn care topic to research for the next month.  Topics included mowing, watering, aerating, topdressing, overseeding, fertilizing, pest control, healthy soil, erosion, watersheds, compost tea, and rain gardens. CCSWCD educator, Kat Munson, made weekly visits to the classroom to work with the students on their research, as well as to help maintain an outdoor test plot in the school's garden area. 

The test plot allowed each student the chance to put what they were learning into action. They topdressed the plot with fresh compost, brewed compost tea to apply on the grass, added new grass seed, and more.

On June 4th, with the sun shining, the students invited the community to join them for their presentations at the school's Spring Fair.  With their displays set up and ready to go, family and friends rotated through the groups as the students explained what they had learned and their advice for a healthy lawn. 

Explaining how Compost Tea is made!

Showing off some homemade compost and explaining topdressing.

Thank yous are in order to all of the 5th grade teachers at Longfellow Elementary, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Pratt, and Mr. Connolly, for all of their hard work and support. Thank you also to the students from USM and Doug Roncarati from the City of Portland for volunteering their time and sharing their knowledge during the Capisic Pond field trip. Most importantly, a big round of applause for each and every student at Longfellow Elementary that worked so hard on this project - awesome job!