Sustainability in Action at Jennings Hall Rain Gardens

On Saturday, April 1st, nearly 100 student volunteers representing several student organizations joined Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), PPARE-Physical Planning, FOD, and Arts and Sciences staff to clean and maintain the rain gardens behind Jennings Hall. The gardens were weeded, perennials were trimmed, new perennials were planted, trees were pruned, shrubs were transplanted, and the gardens were mulched. It was by far the largest turnout by students and student organizations since this voluntary effort began in 2013.

The Jennings Hall rain gardens were among the first developed for the Columbus campus after the old Botany and Zoology building greenhouses were demolished in 1995. Rain Gardens help filter and slow the runoff from storm events and are a popular form of “green” infrastructure. Green infrastructure has gained in popularity as communities throughout the nation are addressing continued urban growth and the limitations of existing and often outdated sewer piping.

Representatives from the following student organizations worked on the 1st under supervision of Environmental Health & Safety (EHS), Department of Molecular Genetics, and Physical Planning and Real Estate representatives.

  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Buckeye Stream Team
  • Circle K
  • The Duck Club
  • Engineers for a Sustainable World
  • Health Points
  • Kappa Phi Lambda
  • The Ohio Student Service Society
  • Pay It Forward
  • Sierra Club Student Coalition
  • Society of Environmental Engineers
  • Stadium Scholarship Program

The representatives, and other volunteers, gathered at Jennings Hall to clean out and maintain the 22 rain garden boxes. Students worked to improve the aesthetics and function of the gardens.

Not only did the student volunteers help beautify and maintain an important natural stormwater facility, but they also helped the university meet one of its stormwater permit requirements. The students and their efforts helped the university satisfy its “Public Involvement and Participation” Best Management Practice (BMP) required in the university’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.

Additional work will occur when the students return for the spring semester. Improvements will include mulching the rain garden plants, weeding, and possibly transplanting plants to further improve the rain gardens’ performance and help prevent the growth of Invasive plants. So watch for more information in the Spring!

In addition to the student volunteer and student organizations who participated with this initiative, EHS also thanks Stephen Volkmann, Emily Yoders-Horn, and FOD Landscape Services for their assistance.