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A New Generation of Water Stewards Adopts Storm Drains

July 31, 2018

Kids clearing a storm drain of debrisAs any parent can attest, keeping kids entertained during the summer is no easy task. At Hamline Church, Amy Schroeder Ireland took her job directing Vacation Bible School to the next level, building environmental education into a weeklong summer camp.

This is Amy’s third year serving as Director of Children’s and Family Ministry at Hamline Church. As a longtime resident of Saint Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood, she noticed “Adopt-a-Drain” signs popping up in her neighbors’ yards. This inspired her to think about Vacation Bible School as the perfect opportunity to teach kids about clean water and give them hands-on experience through stenciling and adopting storm drains around the church.

This summer, Hamline Church adopted ten storm drains located at the four intersections around the church grounds. The 34 Vacation Bible School campers first cleaned up the storm drains, competing to see which team could collect the most debris from gutters. Soon after, they stenciled the drains to make their commitment visible and discourage dumping.

Hamline Church’s United Methodist congregation has already committed to eco-friendly practices in a big way. A rain garden and an organic vegetable garden add color to the grounds while absorbing stormwater runoff from the church parking lot. Recently installed solar panels dot the roof of the church’s education wing, and the congregation minimizes waste through commercial composting.

Amy is passionate about sharing these earth-friendly practices with Hamline Church’s youngest members. “I think it’s the most hopeful thing we can do,” she said, noting that kids bring their environmental enthusiasm home to share with their families. While Amy acknowledges that it’s easy to get discouraged in the face of climate change, she’s heartened that concrete actions like storm drain stenciling give kids a sense of agency.

The church’s commitment to this Adopt-a-Drain effort will continue long after Vacation Bible School adjourns, and kids will continue to clean storm drains year-round as part of the church’s weekly Sunday School programming.

It’s common for people to think adopting a storm drain is as simple as stenciling the curb. However, a long-term commitment to keeping storm drains on your street clear of debris makes the most meaningful impact. With a few simple steps, you can protect local lakes and rivers by adopting a storm drain near your home.

[Read more on the Clean Water MN blog]