Student Project Improves Campus Environment

In an effort to improve the water quality of Bear Creek, a stream that flows through campus, a group of students organized a rain garden as part of a restoration project.

A rain garden is a section of planted land that absorbs and filters water runoff to improve the quality of close bodies of water. For Truman’s rain garden, students selected a damp plot on the corner of Patterson and South Franklin, near an outflow drain from the University, to plant a variety of deep root plants.

In addition to improving the water quality of Bear Creek, the goal of the rain garden was to increase overall attractiveness, protect native wildlife and plants, save the University money and provide a natural biological learning environment for classes.

The stream restoration project, which began in Spring 2014, also included a tree planting initiative. Around 80 students participated by planting more than 300 trees along the section of Bear Creek between West Campus and Barnett Hall.

Under the guidance of Michael Kelrick, professor of biology, alumnus Daniel Creagor developed the initial plans to restore the stream. Seniors August Kersten and Michele Woolbright picked up the project a year later. They worked with both the Department of Conservation and the University to secure necessary resources for both the tree planting and the rain garden. The organizations Beta Beta Beta, ECO, PLANTS, Beta Omega Beta and Student Senate also sponsored the project.

Currently, Kersten and a group of students are monitoring the rain garden to ensure the plants have enough resources to grow and be productive. The rain garden is estimated to be sustainable with minimal intervention by late Spring 2015.

With routine supervision and additional planting along the stream, there should be vast improvements in the overall water quality and attractiveness of Bear Creek within 10 years.