Yes, we have certified SIX new sites as River-Friendly!
Do a happy dance.
Okay, that's enough...
The Pennington School
Princeton Friends School
Three Bridges School
TPC Jasna Polana
Hightstown Housing Authority
Our Technical Advisory Committee and Program Coordinators Brittany and Lauren convened in June to review participant submissions and projects. All four schools reached the 'Watershed Level' - our highest level of River-Friendly School Certification - with engaging projects and lessons that focus on water, wildlife, and sustainable communities. So, how did they do it? Our school program requires the submission of lesson plans and project descriptions, including grades involved and number of students reached. Teachers and administrators essentially create reports of their “river-friendly” activities with help from our coordinator.
Both the Whitehouse School and Three Bridges School worked with Raritan Headwaters Association to implement similar projects, such as native gardens, water audit, and a stream cleanup. Both schools also held a "RiverFest" with the 3rd grade, parents, and community members.
Teachers at The Pennington School take their Environmental Science students to the campus pond to investigate water quality and identify restoration opportunities. These investigations led to bank stabilization projects and maintenance activities that included the removal of sediment and dead organic matter from important flow areas.
Princeton Friends School takes advantage of their campus by providing outdoor experiences, including an outdoor classroom, for their students. River-Friendly activities include macroinvertebrate sampling in the Stony Brook, Earth Day cleanup, and a tree planting to help restore their stream corridor.
River-Friendly Businesses and Golf Courses must submit a similar "report", but with much more detail regarding landscape care and maintenance of the property. These baseline standards include monitoring of landscape chemicals as part of an Integrated Pest Management Plan and maps of the property indicating maintenance areas, stormwater flow, and pest hotspots. We also ask for narratives about 1) soil and plant care, 2) snow removal and de-icing, 3) stormwater best management practices, and 4) water conservation.
In addition to the 21 baseline standards, a site must implement three site-specific actions/projects. These have ranged from bird box installations to native meadow plantings to additional employee education.
Below are short descriptions of these actions from our newly certified sites:
Hightstown Housing Authority (HHA) has excelled in stormwater management. This 3-acre site is used as a demonstration for the Borough of Hightstown, and for good reason. Executive Director Keith LePrevost has worked to capture over 50% of the site’s runoff by implementing various green infrastructure techniques such as dry wells, EZ Flo piping, rain gardens, and gravel infiltration pits. These techniques have solved chronic flooding issues and added aesthetic value to an old urban setting. When walking around this community, you will notice pollinator gardens, bird houses, educational signage, and small ID tags near most plants and trees.
Gravel "pits" at HHA capture runoff from this large area of concrete.
TPC Jasna Polana earned recertification under the guidance of Tim Connolly, Superintendent at Jasna, after certification back in 2005. This course is dedicated to protecting natural resources and has proven that through landscape-changing projects that provide wildlife habitat and conserve water. Over the past few years Jasna has installed and expanded a NJ native wildflower meadow and warm-season grass turf, identified sprinkler heads to turn off or to "part circle", and converted their existing rough areas to non-irrigated fescue.
Newly added wildflower expansion of 12,000 sq ft at Jasna