La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School
In 2010 former teacher Jan Hammel saw potential in an unused area of the La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School grounds, and with the help of her students constructed a small rain garden. Since then Mrs. Hammel’s small rain garden project has become an inspiration, and current administrators and volunteers are making the entire school property a natural, water-friendly environment.
“Helping our kids learn and develop healthy habits is what we’re about. Being a good citizen and an environmentally responsible neighbor to the community is the Lancer Way,” said school Principal Jeff Copp. “We want to show our students and staff how important it is to take care of this beautiful, natural surrounding area.”
Building, Grounds and Transportation Director Pat Hughes, Principal Jeff Copp, and parent volunteer Michelle Shippy take pride in using the school landscape as a teaching opportunity for kids, and in recent years have led an effort to integrate many runoff mitigation practices on the school property. A low rain garden basin at the corner of 4th and Oak Streets is planted with dozens of deep-rooted native plants that help soak up water from the roof. Downspouts on the east side of the school carry runoff to the rain garden, where pollutants filter out as water soaks into the ground.
In addition to rain gardens and native plants, the school constructed swales, berms and a creative natural playground to manage runoff.
As a result, La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School is protecting local creeks, rivers, lakes and groundwater, and reducing pollution. Their work has also made beautiful places for school staff, students and neighbors to play, learn and enjoy the outdoors. And teachers have incorporated experiences with plants, bugs, water and natural systems in curriculums.
Visit La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School at 504 South Oak Street, La Crescent, Minnesota to see first-hand how water friendly landscapes look, work and inspire.