An important aspect of implementing green infrastructure in a community is education. The community needs to understand what it is, why it’s important, and what they can do themselves on a small residential scale to contribute to making green infrastructure a priority in their community.
American Rivers has been involved in the Toledo-Lucas County Rain Garden Initiative for many years. This organization works with residents, schools, churches, and community centers to educate them on the benefits of rain gardens, and in addition lend expertise to help design and install rain gardens. Recently, we identified rain gardens throughout Toledo and Lucas County that did not have any signage. Having educational signage is a key way to educate passer-byers and raise awareness in the community. Many of the rain gardens already installed that did not have signs were located at schools around town. The cost for permanent signs can usually be written in to grant funded projects, but most of these are not grant funded projects.
One solution to this was discovered by building a partnership with a local High School Senior, Alexander Okonta. He was able to create and install an educational rain garden sign at one of the school rain gardens for his Eagle Scout Service Project. Okonta was able to work with the school, the City of Toledo and the Rain Garden Initiative to come up with the design of the sign and locate a school rain garden that was in need of valuable signage. The Eagle Scout Service Project is supposed to allow the Scout to demonstrate his leadership in service of others. This partnership was beneficial to Okonta, and more importantly a huge benefit for the school and the greater community by having a platform to educate them about the environmental, social, and economic benefits from rain gardens and other green infrastructure practices.