Next summer, a parking lot on an Indiana campus will be a little prettier and a little less likely to flood due to a recently installed rain garden. That rain garden planting capped off a training workshop at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC).
The Purdue University Extension Rainscaping Education Program team held a two-day intensive workshop September 17-18 for 24 participants from across the state, including Master Gardeners, Soil and Water Conservation District professionals, landscaping contractors, and municipal separate storm sewer system managers.
They learned specifics about rain gardens and other rainscaping techniques, which offer an alternative to standard infrastructure methods for flood prevention and stormwater management. These plantings capture rain water where it lands and slowly absorb it into the soil.
The goal is for workshop participants to take this new knowledge back home to incorporate rainscaping in their community, to engage in public education, and to provide technical assistance. “In Jasper County, participants who attended our previous workshop have held sessions for residents based on our program,” said Kara Salazar, IISG specialist. “Several participants from this workshop have already expressed plans to do the same.”
The workshop was designed to use flipped class instruction, which means the participants came to class already knowing the ABCs of rain gardens. Before the workshop they had homework, which was to watch seven instructional videos. “This approach really worked,” said Salazar. “We were able to go in depth in our classroom discussions.”
The workshop included a tour of rain gardens in the area and hands-on experience helping with the installation of the IUPUC rain garden. This garden was an opportunity to also bring in IUPUC students, who participated in the site selection and the planting. They will also work with faculty member Luke Jacobus, rainscaping team member Kris Medic, local Master Gardeners, and the campus maintenance crew to help maintain the garden.
“As we choose a host site for our demonstration gardens, longevity and sustainability are key factors,” said Salazar.
Stormwater management in Indiana is getting a shot in the arm next month with the launch of the Rainscaping Education Program.
A collaboration between Purdue Extension, IISG, and others, the program provides how-to information and resources on landscape design and management practices that help prevent polluted stormwater from reaching local waterways. Practices are appropriate for both residential gardens and small-scale public spaces, including schools and community centers.
It all starts April 14 with the first in a series of workshops focused on rain gardens. Over the course of five three-hour sessions, participants will visit and discuss existing rain gardens in the community and learn how to design, construct, and maintain one with a focus on community education. They will also get a chance to test their knowledge by collaborating on a demonstration rain garden with community partners.
The Rainscaping Education Program is open to Purdue Master Gardeners, personnel at conservation organizations, stormwater professionals, and landscape professionals and consultants. For more information and to learn how to register, visit the program website.
***Photo: The plants and soil in rain gardens help absorb stormwater and filter out pollutants. Courtesy of the Champaign-Urbana Residents for Raingardens and BioSwales.
A closer look at web tools and sites that boost research and empower Great Lakes communities to secure a healthy environment and economy.
The Sustainable Communities program, a collaboration between IISG and Purdue University Extension, has been helping Indiana decision makers and residents improve the long-term health of their communities for years. And learning about available workshops and resources is now easier than ever with their new program website.
Visitors will find information on key Purdue University Extension programs and resources to support community planning. Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, for example, provides a framework for collecting data on community assets and using that data to preserve and improve parks, town centers, and other public spaces. The program will also help community leaders charged with managing public spaces and implementing new projects build communities that are more resilient to economic and environmental changes. The process starts with a one-day workshop that helps participants identify best practices for improving public spaces. Collaborative activities emphasize forming partnerships to achieve community sustainability goals, and follow-up working group meetings facilitated by Purdue Extension provide the resources and technical support needed to plan and implement projects tailored to individual communities. Workshops can be scheduled now. The complete curriculum will be available for download in early 2015.
For Master Gardeners, stormwater educators, and others involved in community education programs, a visit to the website is a quick way to learn about a train-the-trainer program designed to reduce stormwater runoff and the pollution it carries. Rainscaping Education is an advanced training opportunity that includes classroom instruction, online learning opportunities, and field trips to community examples of rainscaping projects. Participants also team up with community partners to design and create a demonstration rain garden. At the end of the four training modules, participants are prepared to support rainscaping projects and associated education programs in their communities. Workshops will begin this spring.
For more information on Purdue’s Sustainable Communities Extension Program, contact Kara Salazar.