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Hudson High School rain garden gets growing

Creating the rain garden from beginning to end was a year-long effort by HHS students, staff and others.1 / 3
Setting out plants and deciding where to put them in the garden were, from left, student Alex Willi, Sam Otten of Youth Action Hudson and student Mary Lesher.2 / 3
The time to plant arrived. Taking on the task were, from left, John Mueller, Ruth Dolan, Nicole Smock, Madde Willi, Sarah Bauer, Alex Willi, Mary Lesher, Patty Mueller, and, sitting, Ruth Hilfiker. Photos submitted3 / 3

The Hudson High School rain garden has been a work in progress since last fall. Under the guidance of Ruth Hilfiker from EcoGrow Consulting, students in the sustainability club planned and created the design for the school's artful rain garden. The project began with a grant from the Phipps Center for the Arts.

They chose a drainage ditch on the north side of the high school for garden site because there is a large volume of water than runs through the ditch on its way through the school forest and finally into Lake Mallalieu. The rain garden is designed to capture rain and snowmelt before it reaches a storm sewer and the nearby lake and river.

 The students chose only plants native to the St. Croix River Valley. A variety of plants were also chosen to increase the biodiversity and attract multiple species of birds and butterflies to the garden.  

During the process of planning and installing their garden, students learned how rain gardens reduce pollution to lakes and rivers, reduce flooding and erosion, and protect fish and other aquatic animals, as well as attracting birds and butterflies and looking beautiful. 

During three major work days this spring, students focused on shaping the garden after the HHS grounds crew did some earthmoving to begin the process. The second day was spent spreading compost. The students spent six hours the third day hauling and spreading mulch donated by the city of Hudson. When the work was done, 432 plants were placed in the garden. 

Many HHS students assisted in the project, most from the sustainability club. Adults that assisted include the sustainability club advisor, Patty Mueller, River Crest teacher John Mueller, community volunteer Buck Malick, St. Croix County Land and Water Conservation Department water resources specialist Tamara Wittmer, Youth Action Hudson Representative Samantha Otten and EcoGrow Consultant Hilfiker.  

Students that attended one or more workdays included Ruth Dolan, Nicole Smock, Madde Willi, Alex Willi, Sarah Bauer, Mary Lesher, Bridget Donahue, Christopher and Alex VanSomeren, Chris Lueneberg, Mary Lesher, Brett DuCharme, Sam Rosiejka, Makayla Wildes and Ian Egeberg. 

For more information contact Patty Mueller, HHS Sustainability Committee advisor at HHS, (715) 377-3800 ext. 6518.