When the Anacortes High School Environmental Club (aka Green Club) approached Shell PSR Environmental Manager Nate Biletnikoff last fall, he was not only surprised with what the students were proposing, he was also impressed by their project schedule - completing an environmental design project, from scratch, by the end of the school year!
"The students of the Green Club made a tremendous impression on me as soon as we met," said Biletnikoff. "Within minutes of meeting each other, I was steeped in dialogue with the students on subjects I had never even considered until I was well into my undergraduate environmental science program - surface compaction, porosity and permeability rates, and employing the right native plant species."
The problem? Address a local water quality issue where stormwater runoff from an agricultural lot was introducing high fecal coliform counts untreated into Fidalgo Bay. The solution? Incorporate the latest environmental design methods to treat polluted water using natural methods right at the source!
Nate wanted to help the students and saw an opportunity for Shell PSR to partner. He presented their proposal to the PSR Social Investment Committee and PSR responded by providing a $2,500 grant to the students for materials.
"At first, I had my doubts that the students would be able to pull this off by the end of the school year, but I look back now and see that it was their leadership attributes that really made the difference, primarily their personal ownership in the natural environment," Nate continued. "They have a level of passion, excitement, and real ambition which is so motivating to watch, and hard to match! I am proud that PSR was able to partner with such an impressive group of students."
Beyond PSR, this project provided an opportunity for several community partners to work together with the students, including environmental staff from the Samish Indian Nation, Azusa Gardens providing the native plants, landscape design by Armadillo Design Labs, rain garden subject matter expert Kari Sherman, and AHS teacher/advisors, Victor Garcia and Mike Stark.
The Rain Garden Project was completed on Sunday June 6th after months of planning, three weekends of long days excavating dirt, preparing the substrate, contouring the landscape, planting the starts and building a rock outfall.