After two years of planning, more than 100 Flint Southwestern Academy students put the final touches on a wetland restoration project next to their school. The 150-foot-long excavated site was designed and constructed as part of University Outreach’s Discovering Place program and will retain rain and snow melt to create a plant and animal habitat and outdoor learning space. Rows of donated pine trees were also planted behind the site by students. Discovering Place works with Flint-area teachers to implement place-based education projects connecting students’ curriculum requirements with their surroundings.
Teachers Linda Heck and Kim Hatfield have worked with Discovering Place for the past five years using the place-based education program to expand the connections between in-class lessons and real world examples. Over the years, students worked with Genesee County Conservation District staff to learn about the importance of wetlands for people, animals and water retention. The project, which aligns with green and blue infrastructure goals in the Flint master plan, was an important collaboration between the city of Flint and community stakeholders as well, according to City Planner Adam Moore. He said the project is part of a city strategy to responsibly maintain the city’s more than 1,800 acres of parkland.
Hatfield said the pool gives students a sense of ownership of the space having been involved in the design and physical work to change the grass to a wetland. She said it is also great that students who couldn’t help build the site will be able to benefit from the site long after it is completed.