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Howland students work to alleviate flooding issues

Howland High School science students made a presentation to the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation on getting rain gardens placed by high school to alleviate flooding. From left are Hannah Fowler, senior; Kalin Baritell, senior; Angelo Ftanzaglio, senior, Cyenna Ulrich-Cech, senior; Dominic McCullough, senior, and science teacher Jason Lee.

HOWLAND — A group of Howland High School science students are working to help their school district address flooding issues by recommending rain gardens be placed on the property.

The students — Kalin Baritell, Hannah Fowler, Angelo Franzaglio, Gabrielle Gambill-Chapin, Dominic McCullough, Giavanna Mezzapeso and Cyenna Ulrich-Cech, under the guidance of science teacher Jason Lee — have entered the rain garden project in the Lexus Eco Challenge competition.

The project was submitted this fall to the competition.

The students explained the rain gardens and how they can combat flooding issues during a recent presentation and slide show before the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors.

Franzaglio said the Lexus Eco Challenge is a nationwide scholarship competition that has students addressing a local environmental issue and finding ways to help address or correct that situation.

The team submitted an action plan of what it needs to do to address the flooding at the high school property.

Fowler said the flooding at the high school can become bad in the parking lot and on the roads nearby.

“It gets to the point where cars can’t drive on the street. We looked at how there has been flooding this year in other parts of Trumbull County. One example was in Kinsman where a section of a road by a lake got washed away trapping people on the other side,” Fowler said.

She said they have spoken to Howland school officials of having a rain garden in front of the high school, noting when the water stays there and freezes during the colder winter months it could create a safety hazard for students and staff.

Baritell said being proposed is to possibly have two rain gardens at the high school property but the exact locations have to be determined.

“When it rains the rain gardens will be able to absorb and hold the water and also provide water for the plants,” she said.

Ulrich-Cech said the team educated school officials and public about the benefits of rain gardens and have worked to get permission to proceed with the project. She said school administration is in support of the project.

“We educated ourselves on flooding issues and rain gardens. We spoke to a YSU professor who told us about flooding and wetland issues that are local and offered to help us with building the rain gardens,” she said.

The students have also created an informational pamphlet educating the public on their benefits. The information was provided at local farmers market and to local businesses.

“It was important we went into the community to educate people on benefits of rain gardens. For flooding rain gardens are a natural solution,” Fowler said.

A goal is to have the rain gardens in place within a few years.

Plans have the 10- by 15-foot rain gardens of six inches deep with the students having an estimated project budget of $2,200,which includes excavating, landscaping and plants. Excavating was estimated at $1,500

The students have contacted Creekside Gardens and other businesses about the project including having native plants in the garden.

In addition to the high school, the students said there has also been flooding by the middle school.

Lee said the students have the opportunity to earn scholarship money from the competition, which has students tackling environmental land, water, climate and air issues on the community level by creating and submitting an action plan.

The students will also be seeking donations to help with the gardens.

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