Eleven students and teachers from Youth Eco Solutions teams at Discovery Woods Montessori in Brainerd participated March 5 in Go Native for Water Quality at Northland Arboretum.

This workshop is one of 13 across the state, allowing students to connect with experts and gain information to position them for success as they excel in team-based projects this school year.

Rain gardens, water quality, climate change and how to improve water were all topics of discussion for the YES! students who attended the winter workshop. Coralee Fox, University of Minnesota Extension master gardener in Crow Wing County, kicked off the day with an in-depth look at what a rain garden is and why it's important for filtering out "yuck" before it goes into local bodies of water. She outlined how to calculate the right size of a rain garden for properties based on the area of impervious surface, and what plants to grow for best filtering based on soil, sunlight, color and seasons. Fox then challenged students to calculate how big of a rain garden their school would need to help filter out the run-off.

Next, the students discussed where to place the rain garden, considering several factors like where drain spouts are and where students like to play football and other outdoor activities.

Then, Jenna Totz from Climate Generation led students in a discussion on the difference between weather and climate.

Students participated in a gallery walk, a biome meet and greet, and a robust discussion on how to help the planet, which included ideas like using less energy, eating fresh and local foods, reducing, reusing, recycling, walking, biking and taking the bus.

When asked what one student enjoyed about the day, she commented, "Working with a partner to plan a rain garden, it's really exciting."

Another student added, "It's really fun-learning about the Earth and helping to save its resources."