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New rain garden installed on The Ridges grounds

Bethany N. Bella | May 2, 2018

The newest addition on the grounds of The Ridges, a 100-square foot rain garden installed near the Child Development Center, was a collaborative effort among students, staff, and faculty at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

Rain gardens help divert storm water from storm sewers and allow for the rain water to infiltrate into the ground naturally.

The project was spearheaded by the Voinovich School’s Energy and Environment team, the Environmental Studies program at the Voinovich School, several units within Ohio University’s Facilities Management, and the Child Development Center. Funding for the project was provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 of the Clean Water Act grant.

To be finished in May 2018, the rain garden will be composed of more than 15 different plant species, including types adapted to wetland habitats such as sedges, rushes and several other flowering plants, according to Voinovich School environmental specialist Nicole Kirchner. Kirchner was instrumental in planning the design, location, plant selection and coordination of various partners on the project.

Jennie Brancho, a first-year master’s candidate in the Environmental Studies program (MSES), organized and facilitated the rain garden installation, under Kirchner’s leadership. A recent graduate from Kent State University, Brancho studied environmental and conservation biology, with a concentration in environmental policy and management, before joining the Voinovich School MSES cohort in fall 2017. She has worked closely on this project’s design, along with other watershed restoration work for the Voinovich School and Raccoon Creek Partnership, ever since.

“I think the rain garden is a meaningful, and really enjoyable project for me because I’m very passionate about water quality,” Brancho said. “I think there is a disconnect in many communities between their everyday actions and pollution in rivers, so I think the rain garden is a great way to make that connection with really young children and their parents.”

Fellow MSES candidate and graduating second-year Brooke Stokes helped complete the installation. “Storm water and greywater use/reuse are great ways to reduce water consumption, and I think it’s great that we are working to incorporate these concepts into University buildings,” Stokes said.

The rain garden will provide local ecological benefits to The Ridges ecosystem, as well as house a memorial. A plaque on-site will commemorate Patrick Murphy, a student at the Child Development Center who passed away just after his second birthday in March 2017.

“We hope to have this be a lasting memorial to him,” said Dr. Natalie Kruse, an associate professor at the Voinovich School and member of the Parent Advisory Board with the Child Development Center.

The Child Development Center’s Parent Advisory Board is accepting donations towards Patrick’s memory stone and plaque, as well as funds towards replacement plants in the future. Contact the Child Development Center at 740.593.1819 for more information.