Treating and Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship 

A model program to engage students, teachers, and groundskeepers in Prince George’s County

By Tara Baker, Chesapeake Bay Trust; Edited by Maureen Farrington

students in the yard

The Prince George’s Department of the Environment (DoE) recognizes that schools are key sites for stormwater management projects because they have large parking lots and roof tops that create a high volume of stormwater runoff. Schools are also central hubs for citizens and students, making them ideal demonstration sites for public awareness. Therefore, schools provide a unique opportunity for Prince George’s County to connect the stormwater projects installed on school grounds with the environmental curriculum that supports the State’s Environmental Literacy graduation requirement.

In 2016, the Anaostia Watershed Society, Prince George’s County Public Schools, DoE, and the Clean Water Partnership launched a pilot program called “Treating & Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship.” This program trains teachers how to use their schoolyard, including the stormwater projects installed, as educational tools to support their curriculum. In the pilot, eighteen schools received stormwater management practices to treat the runoff from impervious areas. Teachers from these schools attended workshops to learn how the stormwater practices functioned and could be used as teaching tools in the classroom (more online here). However, there was a need to continue training teachers and expand the effort to groundskeepers and students.

DoE partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to offer the Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support clean water projects and engage citizens throughout Prince George’s County. The Anacostia Watershed Society applied to the grant program that would connect schools and the stormwater practices implemented on school grounds. Our awarded project expanded the “Treating and Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship” to an additional 16 schools in the first year and another 20 schools in the next year. Currently, the first 16 schools have completed the training and are in the second phase of the program where they install outdoor classroom features on their schoolyards.

The “Treating and Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship” grant project is unique and a “first in class” because it supports:

  • Teachers, municipal groundskeepers, and students in thirty six schools
  • The Maryland Environmental Literacy graduation requirement
  • Kevin Maxwell’s goal of 100% Green School certification for all Prince George’s County Public Schools
  • The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement
  • Collaboration with top stormwater and education professionals in the state

The “Treating & Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship” program is a strong first step to train Prince George’s County teachers how to use the outdoor stormwater practices as a resource for teaching their students.

This innovative program connects the real-world problem of stormwater runoff with student learning outdoors on their schoolyards.

The Anacostia Watershed Society leads the grant project with partners from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, the William S. Schmidt Center, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Real School Gardens, Low Impact Development Center, Neighborhood Design Center, and Bradley Site Design. In addition, a diverse coalition of organizations supports this effort and includes local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, the private sector, the DoE, and the Prince George’s County school system. For more information about this effort contact Tara Baker (tbaker@cbtrust.org).

List of 16 Selected Schools for “Treating & Teaching: Stormwater Stewardship grant:

  • Bond Mill Elementary School
  • Calverton Elementary School
  • District Heights Elementary School
  • Frances Scott Key Elementary School
  • Friendly High School
  • Gwyn Park High School
  • High Point High School
  • John Hanson Montessori School
  • Laurel Elementary School
  • Oxon Hill Middle School
  • Parkdale High School
  • Potomac High School
  • Rosa L. Parks Elementary School
  • Scotchtown Hills Elementary School
  • Templeton Elementary School
  • Walker Mill Middle School

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