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Planting Their Little Patch of Green

Students Join with Groundswell to Slow Down Erosion


The grounds around Mulick Park Elementary School have serious erosion issues, to the point of their storm drains being clogged with sediment. That problem sent students into action shortly before school let out, planting Michigan native plants to slow down stormwater runoff and soak it up with the plants’ long, extensive root systems. They hope to continue work towards this goal next school year as well. The project was undertaken with the support of Groundswell, a Grand Valley State University program that offers grants to schools for place-based learning projects to protect water quality in the Grand River and Great Lakes.

Planting can be fun, as shown by (from left) fourth-graders Promise Eppinger, Ari Browley, Ohnestee Hooks and Sonea Hernandez

In Mulick Park’s urban neighborhood, fourth-graders Nola Degroft, left, and Laniya Elliot do their part for nature

L-R: Groundswell Assistant Director Joanna Allerhand, left and project assistant David Kraff work with Cameron Earvin, foreground, and Sonea Hernandez

Tamar Lowe, in red shirt, and Marshae Buggs watch Rebecca Marquardt dig with an electric bulb auger tool

Fourth-grade teacher Lainey Bryde pitches in with students (from left) Tashiyah Hooks, Joshua Ivy and Dan Lagulu

Fifth-graders Tashiyah Hooks, left, and Vanessa Hemmes carefully embed plants that will help slow down stormwater runoff

Groundswell landscape architect Rebecca Marquardt demonstrates proper planting technique to, from left, Saniyah Blakeley, Marshae Buggs and Nola Degroft

Plants await planting by Mulick Park fourth- and fifth-graders, assisted by Groundswell staff

Kneeling to plant Michigan native plants are, from left, Anaya Ridley, Kamrari Jones, Saniyah Blakeley and Naji Taylor, with help from fourth-grade teacher Lainey Bryde

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Dianne Carroll Burdick
Dianne Carroll Burdick has worked as a photojournalist in the West Michigan area since 1991. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she has photographed for The Grand Rapids Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Detroit Free Press, Advance Newspapers, Grand Rapids Magazine, BLUE Magazine and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting and thought provoking stories of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2016.

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