The sound of scraping soil filled the air as several Tanapag Middle School (TMS) Micronesia Challenge Club students joined staff from the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ), the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance (MINA) and NMC ENRO club students digging holes as they recently planted the first rain garden on school grounds.
Taro, Lemon Grass, Elephant Ear and local shrubs were handled gently and planted as part of an environmental adaption strategy to filter out storm water and pollutants before it heads into the Tanapag lagoon.
“A rain garden is planted in a depression or a dip and works to collect rainwater draining of roads and walkways. As rainwater flows downhill, the rain garden catches pollutants and sediment that might otherwise end up in our oceans,” said BECQ Coral Reef Initiative Education and Outreach Coordinator Jihan Buniag.
“This is a multi-partnership project, that we are excited to share with TMS students so they can learn how watersheds work, how the land and sea are connected, the importance of coral reefs, and how they as students can help filter out pollution even in a small way,” she said.
A YOUNG TANAPAG MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT AND MEMBER OF THE TMS MICRONESIA CHALLENGE CLUB PLANTS A SEEDLING AT THE SCHOOL’S RAIN GARDEN.
MINA project Manager and TMS Parent Teacher Student Association President, Kodep Ogumoro Uludong, says it is exciting to add the rain garden as part of the learning process he started two years ago in the community, through the Managaha Sanctuary Pride Campaign.
“Students founded the Micronesia Challenge Club at TMS and they have been doing beach clean ups, turtle tagging, outreach and awareness throughout the village, listening to guest speakers and attending workshops. Micronesia Challenge club students speak about the Managaha Sanctuary and the importance of keeping our environment clean and healthy,” he said.
TMS Principal Erica Thornburg agrees, saying that the community does have a strong ownership of their village and share concerns on how to protect their lagoon.
“The students were super excited to help and they all wanted to plant. We had to select a small group to help, but the whole school will help in maintaining the garden. This rain garden will serve as a great reminder to our students of how we must work together to protect our environment and how we can play a role in keeping our oceans healthy,” she said.
Among those assisting with the installation of the rain garden were Saipan Mayor’s Office field operations staff, MINA’s TASI Watch Rangers, and Northern Marianas College ENRO Club volunteers.
VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF OF TANAPAG MIDDLE SCHOOL, MICRONESIA CHALLENGE CLUB, BUREAU OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND COASTAL QUALITY, MARIANA ISLANDS NATURE ALLIANCE, TASI WATCH, SAIPAN MAYOR’S OFFICE AND NMC ENRO CLUB GATHER FOR A GROUP PHOTO AFTER PLANTING THE SCHOOL’S RAIN GARDEN. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
“The rain garden is also part of a bigger project that involves a climate change video that will be distributed to all the schools next year as part of teaching about community adaptation strategies. While we cannot stop climate change, we can work to make our island healthier and more resilient, which means our environment will be better able to adapt to changes in the future,” says Avra Heller, BECQ Coral Reef Initiative Project Coordinator.
The TMS rain garden is BECQ’s third rain garden installation on island. The other rain gardens can be found at San Vicente Elementary School and at the CNMI Museum.
Buniag says anyone can help our oceans by building a rain garden on their property and BECQ has rain garden manuals and technical assistance for those who would like to start one.
For more information on how to plan and plant your very own rain garden please call BECQ at 664-8500.