PEC teamed up with Mill Run Elementary School to create a naturally landscaped outdoor area for educating students, parents and the community. This past November, the school’s fourth and fifth grades participated in the project by planting 75 native trees and 135 native plants!
“Students were thrilled to help. The two grades were assigned different days, and I heard the fifth graders had planting-envy when watching their fourth grade schoolmates on their workday,” said Gem Bingol, Loudoun County land use officer at PEC.
Oya Simpson, Loudoun County community projects specialist for PEC, is a parent of Mill Run students, and she has worked with the school to develop the outdoor project from design concept to planting. Last fall, Simpson approached the school’s principal, Paul Vickers, with ideas about installing pollinator and rain gardens, increased tree canopy, and a platform for science and art activities.
The project provides a true hands-on learning experience, and, at the same time, it’s this great habitat restoration effort. It’s almost like a sanctuary for wildlife and the community all wrapped up into one
PEC brought in the Loudoun Environmental Stewardship Alliance with representatives from Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, River Stories, and Claude Moore Park to assist with a teacher workshop to demonstrate outdoor activities that meet standards of learning for each grade level.
Prior to planting their trees, which were donated by Casey Trees DC and Fairfax ReLeaf, the teachers and students were also given a presentation regarding proper planting and maintenance.
A 25 by 30 foot Science and Nature Platform for hands-on teaching opportunities was built by an Ashburn Home Depot volunteer team, led by store manager, Larry Palatnik. “We were even lucky to get help from Supervisor Shawn Williams and his staff to work through the zoning and permit process, which I was not familiar with,” said Simpson.
The project has also received in-kind contributions from the Merritt Properties, Loudoun County Storm Water Management, South Riding Nurseries, Heritage Landscaping Services and the school’s hardworking Parent Teacher Organization.
The Dominion Foundation awarded a grant of $10,000 to PEC’s Mill Run Elementary project in 2013. PEC also secured funding from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund for native plants.
“The project provides a true hands-on learning experience, and, at the same time, it’s this great habitat restoration effort. It’s almost like a sanctuary for wildlife and the community all wrapped up into one,” remarked Simpson.
This article was featured in our Winter 2014 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.