Pupils Planting Stakes To Keep Creek Healthy

The fifth grade class of Wheeling Country Day School launched a project to improve the health of a creek located on the school grounds.

With the help of crews from AllStar Ecology of Reedsville, W.Va., the students recently spent a day taking steps to fortify the stream, including changing its slope in one area to allow better water flow. They also planted trees and shrubs to provide more shade.

“We have been realizing for the last three years the health of our creek wasn’t as good as we want it to be,” said Kassie Edwards, school science coordinator.

Edwards noted the invasive plant species Japanese knotweed has been taking over the bank of the creek. She said planting native plants such as black willows, silver willows, sycamores and dogwoods will increase the amount of shade on the banks, which will help eliminate the invasive species, stabilize the creek bank and attract more native animals to the area.

“It probably won’t be for about two years we get much shade, but this is a project for the future. That’s what Country Day kids do. They think about the future of their school,” Edwards said. “It’s good to have kids dream big and say let’s do something and then just try. They had a lot of help with this, and I hope they will be successful with it.”

In addition, students will create a new walking path along the creek bank with natural stones. The path will feature painted and carved images and names of the creek’s native plants.

The project is a collaborative partnership with Oglebay Institute’s Schrader Environmental Education Center and funded through a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, or STEAM, grant awarded by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.

The fifth-graders participated in several field trips to the Schrader Center to learn about watersheds and to test the water at Oglebay to compare it to the quality of the school’s creek.

The Schrader Center also has introduced GigaPan technology into the project to take interactive pictures of the creek’s progress for the community to see.