Suquamish Elementary School
In the spring of 2002, a small group of Suquamish Elementary students, staff and volunteers, in partnership with the Suquamish Indian Tribe, began planning to transform the water run-off area of the parking lot into a marshland. The Basket Marsh is now an environmental center that weaves together all of the school’s curriculum in the areas of reading, writing, art, math, and science. It also serves as a common place to learn about the native culture of the area and respect for differences; it reinforces the concept that both nature and native cultures influenced this created environment.
A group of students were recruited to serve as the Student Advisory Board in the marsh development. They are called the "Pond Kids." Under the leadership of the Student Advisory Board, all of the students of Suquamish Elementary had the opportunity to participate in the creation and maintenance of the wetland habitat. The students learned about water quality, where their water run-off goes, and the benefits of native plants. The Pond Kids met once or twice a week after school to plan and coordinate the project, as well as do much of the physical labor; they cleared out blackberries and scotch broom, and helped to rake, dig and plant. The students worked directly with community members to plan the design for the pond, and studied wetlands, storm water run-off and water pollution.
The students’ original plan was just to create the pond, but their concerns about oil and other pollutants getting in the pond from the parking lot led to the addition of the bioswale to filter the water before it reaches the pond. They built a 3-D model by shooting elevations with a transit every ten feet, plotting the data, and creating a layered topographical map of the area using such tools as a survey pole that measures the grade of the land. They helped plan the dedication, made speeches and conducted tours for parents, community members and tribal elders who came for the ceremony. The Basket Marsh now serves as a lasting testimony for the Pond Kids concern for their environment and will hopefully encourage other students to embark on similar projects.