WEFTEC 2015 Service Project Exceeds Size and Scope of Projects Past

December 29, 2015

Featured, WEF Resources & Efforts

WEFTEC® 2015 volunteers plant native prairie grasses and flowers in a rain garden and outdoor classroom at the Pershing Magnet School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

WEFTEC® 2015 volunteers plant native prairie grasses and flowers in a rain garden and outdoor classroom at the Pershing Magnet School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

When the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals committee (SYPC) planned the first WEFTEC® service project in 2008, no one predicted the ripple effect these projects would have on their surrounding communities. Each year the annual event has grown in number of volunteers, physical size of the project, or amount of community involvement. “The Pershing Cultivation Project: Growing Green Gardens and Young Minds,” at WEFTEC 2015 continued to exceed expectations with a larger size and scope than past projects.

The Pershing Cultivation Project: Growing Green Gardens and Young Minds is the eighth annual WEFTEC service project organized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals committee (SYPC). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The Pershing Cultivation Project: Growing Green Gardens and Young Minds is the eighth annual WEFTEC service project organized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals committee (SYPC). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

“The volunteers worked incredibly hard from the early morning to the late afternoon to complete another amazing service project in the city of Chicago,” said Tim Moran, SYPC WEFTEC community service project co-chair.

On Sept. 26, 114 WEFTEC volunteers and approximately 20 community volunteers helped modify 264 m2 (2845 ft2) at the Pershing Magnet School (Chicago). The project included construction of a rain garden, creation of a 216 m (707 ft) outdoor classroom incorporating permeable pavers and underground stormwater storage, planting native prairie grasses and flowers, and installing educational materials to teach students about green infrastructure.

During WEFTEC 2015, 114 WEFTEC volunteers and approximately 20 community volunteers helped modify 264 m2 (2845 ft2) at the Pershing Magnet School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

During WEFTEC 2015, 114 WEFTEC volunteers and approximately 20 community volunteers helped modify 264 m2 (2845 ft2) at the Pershing Magnet School (Chicago). Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

“Volunteers installed a teaching tool to demonstrate the rate at which stormwater infiltrates the various materials used in the construction and found in the school grounds,” Moran said. “Within an hour of finishing the gardens, I saw a monarch butterfly fluttering around from plant to plant.”

The finished garden and outdoor classroom will help capture and store stormwater, improve aesthetics, and demonstrate basic elements of biology and environmental sciences to students. Classes already have used the space for reading, lunch-time, and education about trees and leaves. Sarah Vera, teacher at the Pershing School, said she plans on using the garden throughout the year for a long-term project on plants.

WEF leaders joined project organizers and leaders to cut a ribbon celebrating the opening of the garden. They included Michael Quamme from WEF SYPC, Karen Kubick from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Jonathan Fine from Chicago Public Schools, Safurat Giwa from Chicago Public Schools, Mariyana Spyropoulos from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Ed McCormick from WEF, Tim Moran from WEF SYPC, Haley Falconer from WEF SYPC, and David St. Pierre from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

WEF leaders joined project organizers and leaders to cut a ribbon celebrating the opening of the garden. They included Michael Quamme from WEF SYPC, Karen Kubick from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Jonathan Fine from Chicago Public Schools, Safurat Giwa from Chicago Public Schools, Mariyana Spyropoulos from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Ed McCormick from WEF, Tim Moran from WEF SYPC, Haley Falconer from WEF SYPC, and David St. Pierre from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The WEFTEC 2015 project marked the third completed in Chicago. A high volunteer turnout provided the opportunity not only to complete the largest service project to-date but also to increase its scope and complexity. A group of volunteers were able to leave the Pershing Magnet School and visit the John C. Haines Elementary School (Chicago), the location of the WEFTEC 2013 service project. This group completed regular maintenance on the rain garden constructed in 2013 and built a fence.

“This was the first time we have attempted to complete the service project at multiple locations simultaneously,” Moran said. While this proved challenging, “motivated volunteers and leaders were able to achieve amazing results with limited time and resources,” he said.

More than 1000 local students attended the third annual WEF SYPC Water Palooza to visit 18 booths with interactive water education activities. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

More than 1000 local students attended the third annual WEF SYPC Water Palooza to visit 18 booths with interactive water education activities. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

In addition, SYPC hosted its third annual Water Palooza on Sept. 25. More than 1000 students from the Pershing Magnet School as well as students from eight other, area schools attended the event. The kindergarten through eighth grade students had the opportunity to visit 18 booths hosted by 15 organizations and learn about the value of water and how to become stewards of the water environment through hands-on and demonstrative activities. “This marked our largest event yet and we look to continue growing this successful event at WEFTEC 2016 in New Orleans,” said Michael Quamme, SYPC WEF community service project co-chair.

For the third WEFTEC service project completed in Chiago, volunteers helped create a rain garden and outdoor classroom with permeable pavers and underground stormwater storage at the Pershing Magnet School. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

For the third WEFTEC service project completed in Chiago, volunteers helped create a rain garden and outdoor classroom with permeable pavers and underground stormwater storage at the Pershing Magnet School. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The WEFTEC 2015 service project was conducted in partnership with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago,City of Chicago Department of Water Management, and Chicago Public Schools. The site for the WEFTEC 2016 project, which will be organized by Quamme, the SYPC New Orleans Community Service Project Chair, already has been selected, and planning is underway.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

WEFTEC Service Projects Continue To Expand in Scope and Reach

At WEFTEC® 2008, the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals committee (SYPC) hosted the first annual WEFTEC service project.

The project encourages WEFTEC attendees to leave a tangible, positive imprint on WEFTEC host cities. Projects typically involve installing green infrastructure to help manage stormwater. They have evolved to include community education components as well.

Project participation has grown from approximately 60 volunteers in 2008 to 114 volunteers in 2015. The size and scope of projects has increased from an 18.5-m² (200-ft²) rain garden in 2008 to 330 m2 (3552 ft2) rain garden and outdoor classroom with underground stormwater storage and community education event.

See how the project has grown throughout the years in the graphic below, and see how past project sites are doing in the WEF Highlights article, “WEFTEC Service Project Leaves Green Footprint That Continues To Grow.”

Project Name and Location

Summary

By the Numbers

“Gettin’ Out of the Gutter” took place during WEFTEC 2008 at Pulaski Park in Chicago.Volunteer built a rain garden in Chicago as part of the “Gettin’ Out of the Gutter” service project during WEFTEC 2008. Photo courtesy of Oscar Einzig Photography. Volunteers removed soil from an 18.5-m² (200-ft²) plot, about 0.3 m (1 ft) deep, and brought in top soil, planted native plants, and mulched the area, according to the WEF Highlights article, “WEF’s Young Professionals Leave Their Mark in Chicago At WEFTEC.08.” • approximately 60 volunteers
18.5-m² (200-ft²) rain garden
“Wading for Wetlands” took place during WEFTEC 2009 at Orange County Utilities Northwest Water Reclamation Facility in Orlando, Fla.During WEFTEC 2009, volunteers help at the “Wading for Wetlands” service project. Photo courtesy of Haley Falconer. Volunteers planted several different plant species in one of the facility’s six wetland cells to help remove nitrogen from reclaimed water, according to the WE&T article, “Students and Young Professionals Make a Splash at WEFTEC.09.” approximately 70 volunteers
nearly 1000 plants 
7-ac [3-ha]
“Bioswales in the Bayou” took place during WEFTEC 2010 in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.Volunteers in New Orleans help constructure bioswaled during the WEFTEC 2010 service project, “Bioswales in the Bayou.” Photo courtesy of Falconer. Volunteers planted vegetation and laid down gravel and soil for the bioswales to remove silt and pollutants from runoff and help mitigate flooding. SYPC hosted its inaugural community outreach event, the Water Carnival, drawing about 100 children to learn from water- and sustainability-related interactive activities, according to the WEF Highlights article, “Volunteers Dig In at WEFTEC 2010 To Build Bioswales.” approximately 75 volunteers
12 organizations participated in the Water Carnival
“Walkway to Wetlands” took place during WEFTEC 2011 at the South Los Angeles Wetland Park.Volunteers plant trees during the WEFTEC 2011 service project, "Walkway to Wetlands.” Photo courtesy of Falconer. Volunteers gathered to help plant trees to provide stormwater capture and retention and develop a grand entrance for the park, according to the WEF Highlights article, WEFTEC 2011 Service Project Volunteers Leave Green Footprints in Los Angeles.” approximately 75 volunteers
“Bogging in the Big Easy” took place during WEFTEC 2012 at the New Orleans City Park.WEFTEC 2012 “Bogging in the Big Easy” service project volunteers help plant a wetland area in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Falconer. Volunteers helped build a bioswale to remove silt and pollutants from runoff for the larger wetland and recreational area that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to the WEF Highlights article, “WEFTEC Volunteers Get Muddy To Restore New Orleans City Park Wetland.” approximately 80 volunteers
more than 5000 plants
0.8-ha (2-ac) bioswale
less than 2 hours
“Reading, Writing, and Rain Gardens” took place during WEFTEC 2013 at John C. Haines Elementary School in Chicago.WEFTEC® 2013 "Reading, Writing, and Rain Gardens” volunteers help construct a rain garden in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Falconer Volunteers helped replace pavement with green space by removing a concrete layer subsurface; laying topsoil; planting 13 different types of grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, and trees; laying 28 stone pavers for a walking path; picking up trash; and installing screen fencing to block litter from the playground. SYPC hosted the Water Palooza event at the school to engage students in interactive activities to educate them about pollution, rain gardens, and other sustainability-related topics, according to the WEF Highlights article, “WEFTEC 2013 Annual Service Project’s Ripple Effect Reaches Hundreds.” approximately 110 volunteers
95 m2 (1,024 ft2) rain garden
93 m2 (1,000 ft2) green space
11 volunteers representing eight organizations at the Water Palooza
nearly 700 elementary school students attended the Water Palooza
“Recharge, Restore, Revitalize Hollygrove: Conrad Park Green Infrastructure Enhancements” took place during WEFTEC 2014at Conrad Park in New Orleans.During WEFTEC 2014 service project, “Recharge, Restore, Revitalize Hollygrove: Conrad Park Green Infrastructure Enhancements” volunteers helped construct a rain garden and bioswales in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Michael Quamme. Volunteers helped construct a rain garden and three bioswales to reduce stormwater by placing aggregate and soil in four different areas, picking up trash, creating a walking path, and installing more than 800 plants. Activity stations engaged the community in painting rain barrels, learning about the importance of eliminating standing water, and seeing the effects of stormwater runoff with model landscapes, according to the WEF Highlights article, WEFTEC® 2014 Service Project Volunteers Fix Flooding Problem in New Orleans Park.” approximately 110 volunteers
242 m2 (2600 ft2) of green infrastructure

 

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