This past summer Nile Merton ’15 returned to campus to finish a project he started as a student, updating the rain garden at the Larson-Juhl Center for Science and the Environment. At the same time, across campus, junior Shelly Ray started plans for a rain garden for the new Hulings Rice Food Center.
In 2018, the board of trustees approved a zero stormwater discharge initiative, with a goal of reducing rain runoff from campus to what would have been here before the campus was built.
The importance of reducing runoff has never been higher with the region experiencing its third large flood event in the past six years—and rain gardens play an important role in capturing runoff.
In June, Merton, who started his own ecological restoration business, worked with Mary Griggs Burke Center research assistants planting different types of sedges, grasses, and forbs to soak up water and provide habitat.
Meanwhile, Burke Center research assistant Shelly Ray, who is majoring in water science, planned for a new rain garden. The construction of the Food Center rain garden still requires funding but Ray is hopeful her work has prepared the project for its final stages.