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Students in King County use plants to rebuild, revitalize their playground

Students teamed up with members of the Sounders and nonprofit EarthGen to build a rain garden, adventure playground and outdoor journaling platforms on their campus.

BURIEN, Wash. — Washington-based nonprofit EarthGen is celebrating Earth Month by leading youth-focused climate change programs across the state.  

Students in the Highline School District are investing in nature so they can have more sustainable surroundings at school.  

“We’re all about equipping youth and educators to be change-makers for a healthy environment,” says EarthGen Program Manager Becky Bronstein.

Hilltop Elementary is one of several schools in the district that teamed up with EarthGen to plant and protect their surrounding habitats.  

Last spring the students started a rain garden project with EarthGen. Students learned about the local watershed and what their own rain garden can do. The students were actively involved in planting and weeding and were working with an added incentive.

“Their playfield gets very muddy or very dusty so we installed some French drains under the field that will lead to the rain garden and keep their playground from flooding,” says Bronstein. 

Mountains of mulch moved much easier thanks to a hearty team of volunteers from The Sounders FC and PEMCO Insurance. 

“Community partners showing up for these kids makes a big impression on them,” says Principal Corbin Busby.  

He joined students as they celebrated the completion of the rain garden, adventure playground with boulders and logs to navigate, as well as some benches and journaling platforms the kids requested so they could spend more time reading and writing outside.  

Principal Busby says the most important part of the project is empowering the students to lead change.  

“What they do matters and what they learn matters,” Busby said. 

EarthGen wraps up its week with a visit to Sylvester Middle School and is gearing up for more science-based, action-oriented programs that help young people gain the knowledge, skills and experience they need to become leaders for climate solutions and environmental justice.

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