Lake Champlain Sea Grant is partnering with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Greenprint Partners on the Green Schools Initiative. Lake Champlain Sea Grant will provide stormwater education and outreach to school communities including watershed and stormwater curricula as well as training for students, teachers, and local watershed partners. In addition, Lake Champlain Sea Grant will help schools identify ways to maximize the additional benefits of green stormwater projects, such as creating pollinator habitat and outdoor classrooms.
What is stormwater? Stormwater is water from rainfall and melting snow or ice that moves over the land, collecting pollutants as it makes its way to lakes, ponds, streams, and other surface waters. In urban areas, stormwater reaches surface waters more quickly and in larger volumes during and immediately following rain events than it does in natural areas. This is due to the many impervious surfaces in urban areas that prevent stormwater from infiltrating into the ground. Conversely, in natural areas, stormwater can more easily soak into the ground. It then makes its way slowly through the ground, recharging surface waters consistently from beneath.
Why does stormwater matter? The health of Lake Champlain and other water bodies in the Lake Champlain basin, which lies within portions of Vermont, New York, and Quebec, are negatively impacted by nonpoint sources of pollution, including phosphorus, nitrogen, sediments, chloride, and bacteria. All of this pollution is carried to water bodies in stormwater runoff. Thus, it is critical that everyone understand what stormwater is and how to help clean it and reduce its volume before it enters local waterways.
What is the Green Schools Program? The Green Schools Initiative aims to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution entering Lake Champlain via public school grounds and offers funding and technical assistance to help public schools and state colleges meet the Three-Acre General Permit stormwater regulation. Learn if your school makes the list, Schools Affected by Vermont Three-Acre Rule. To help Vermont public schools in the Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog watersheds with three or more acres of impervious surface comply with the new Three-Acre Rule, technical assistance and funding is available through Greenprint Partners.
Learn more about the Vermont Stormwater General Permit 3-9050 which serves as the general permit for the “Three-Acre General Permit” as required under the Vermont Clean Water Act, through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation.
Community-based problem solving is an important aspect of the science curriculum at our school...lessons involving the water cycle, runoff, sources of pollution, and water filter design give students hands-on experience in understanding stormwater practices, like our school's rain garden, and how they help manage water from our impervious spaces.”
- Vasanthi Meyette, Shelburne Community School teacher
K-12 Teacher Professional Development
Stormwater Education Methods (1-3 graduate credits available)
This course is designed for K-12 and pre-service teachers to build foundational skills and knowledge of stormwater education to be able to effectively engage upper elementary, middle and/or high school students. To become familiar with curriculum content, course participants will engage in hands-on learning to understand the definition of, sources of, and impacts of stormwater on surface water bodies. In addition, they will learn uses for and mechanism of operation for a variety of types of green stormwater infrastructure practices. The course will also provide participants with information about opportunities and steps to implement and maintain various green stormwater infrastructure practices.
Soaking Up Stormwater Workshop (certificates available)
This 2-day workshop is designed specifically for watershed organizations to gain hands-on experience with the Soaking up Stormwater in the Lake Champlain Basin and Beyond curricula. Participants of this workshop will receive a small stipend to implement the Soaking up Stormwater curriculum with a school participating in the Green Schools program.
Soaking Up Stormwater in the Lake Champlain Basin and Beyond
The curriculum is divided into four sections that align with the learning objectives. In Section 1, students learn about stormwater, its movement through watersheds, and the types of pollutants that stormwater can carry to surface waters. In Section 2, students learn to monitor and measure stormwater, and they are introduced to green stormwater infrastructure as a mechanism to treat and reduce stormwater runoff from a property. Activities are designed to engage students to make recommendations about green stormwater infrastructure practices for their school grounds and local communities. In Section 3, students engage in a stormwater stewardship project. These are separated into three tiers based on complexity and cost of the project. In Section 4, students take action to engage others in stormwater stewardship activities. View the curricula and supporting resources.
This curriculum is designed to help students and teachers:
- Understand watersheds and the impact that stormwater can play within them;
- Identify possible sources of stormwater in their communities;
- Engage in a stewardship project that helps clean and minimize stormwater runoff to surface waters; and
- Lead others to engage in stormwater stewardship
This curriculum can be used on its own or in conjunction with the Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension Watershed Alliance Stream Monitoring and Stewardship program.
Program Contact: Ashley Eaton, akeaton [at] uvm.edu