The goal of this project was to reach previously underserved immigrant communities in Burien and provide education on water pollution. ECOSS developed a plan to provide environmental education to youth at Sylvester Middle School on how stormwater runoff impacts water pollution and how green stormwater infrastructure such as the cistern in the school’s campus mitigates water pollution locally where the students are.

For Fall of 2022, we conducted two events with youth groups and one tree-planting event with a partner organization. Through this, we could help recover the functionality of the rain garden which had been overgrown with weeds as well as repair the broken cistern. The first event took place with 130 6th-grade students at Sylvester Middle School students during school hours. We partnered with the 6th-grade science teacher to bring all of her classes outside for this event. The goal of the event was to educate the youth about green stormwater infrastructure, including the rain garden and stormwater cistern at Sylvester Middle School. We also helped them build skills in environmental stewardship through activities such as identifying invasive species, removing weeds, and planting. Each student learned about rain gardens and engaged in weeding and planting tasks for about an hour each.

Through the second event with Foster High School, ECOSS partnered with two teachers who led the Vietnamese Student Association club and gardening club. We conducted a recruitment event a week before to meet the students in these clubs. On the day of the event, we worked with 2 high school students and 2 teachers to further remove invasive species and weeds, which had been overtaking Sylvester’s rain garden. We planted native plants that help rain gardens thrive – such as slender cinquefoil, dense sedge, red-twig dogwood, dagger leaf rush, and douglas aster. We then used fallen leaves and placed it over the bare soil as mulch to prevent further weeds from growing. The youth participants really enjoyed each task and using their gardening skills and learning new skills to make a positive improvement of the school garden. The teachers brought their gardening and engineering experience to fix the cistern.

Finally, ECOSS partnered up with EarthCorps to plant 3 trees and other shrubs at Salmon Creek Park in Burien to meet the tree planting match. This was a solution to the issue of Sylvester MS and Foster HS not wanting to plant additional trees, by further increasing tree canopy and plant coverage at a community park in the Burien area.

This program is funded by the Port of Seattle.