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FHS students create ‘Team Green’


One Farragut High School marine biology class spent an entire semester working with Adopt-a-Watershed to learn about water run-off and its effects on marine life.

Brittany Mendelsohn, Adopt-A-Watershed representative and the class’ mentor, said, “They have been learning the entire year about ecology and environmental stewardship and they wrapped it up with a service project at the end. Some way of helping the environment and helping the community and showing everything that they learned.”

The class was divided up into teams and each team chose a different service project. David Vandergriff from The University of Tennessee Extension Office and James Everett, a town of Farragut employee, were brought in to judge the final product and chose a winner.

Team Green, comprised of students Abby Burgin, Rachel Natzke, Kelsey Ryan and Kayla Larue, picture left, in no particular order, won first-place.

“What they chose was a green lawn care company,” Mendelsohn said.

“They made up their own company to show the community different alternatives and the effects of improper lawn care.”

Rachel, one of the team members, said the group used a Web site, tennesseeyardsandneighbors.com, to help them come up with some environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional lawn care.

“We just thought about water quality issues and what we thought was the best way to solve them.

“We said using the right kind of fertilizer, when it gets into the water stream, it wouldn’t be harmful, and getting your soil tested before you do any kind of maintenance so you know what kind and how much to use,” she said.

Team Green created a poster and a brochure to advertise their company.

Mendelsohn said, “[They included] the services they would provide and questions you should ask of a lawn care company to make sure they are well educated before you choose one.

“These are all the water quality issues in the area and things you can do to help and these are low impact development strategies.”

She added many people do not realize their lawn care choices affect marine life.

“In Knox County the big problem is sediment,” she said.

“And another big problem also is nutrients. That is one of the reasons we settled on this because a lot of that can be associated with lawn care.

“Fertilizer runoff especially can cause very high nutrient levels in the water and if they get too high they can cause algae to grow and if that gets too excessive it can lead to eutrophication, which can lead to low-dissolved oxygen levels and eventually fish kills because there is not enough oxygen in the water.

“If you use too much fertilizer it won’t sink in, it will just run off. If it runs off, it usually will hit the nearest storm drain or go directly into the creek. Storm drains don’t get filtered out or treated, they go directly into the creek and so everything that goes down them goes directly into Turkey Creek as well,” she added.

As the winning team, Team Green’s project was displayed at Lowe’s off North Peters Road in an effort to educate consumers before they purchased lawn care supplies.

Some of the alternatives Team Green recommended were low-impact developments such as rain barrels, rain gardens, pervious pavement and vegetative buffers.

“These L-I-Ds are little ways to help,” Mendelsohn said.

“Things like rain gardens can soak up a lot of the runoff before it hits the streets. Plants will naturally soak up pollution and they can handle it so much better than aquatic systems, which are very sensitive, so vegetative buffers by streams are very important because they basically block the water from those pollutants.

“The pervious surface is a big deal that has not been used too much in this area, but hopefully will be,” she added.

“Impervious surfaces like sidewalks and streets, nothing can soak through them, so it just runs off into the nearest creek. Pervious surfaces work just like concrete or asphalt but it can soak through and some of those pollutants will hopefully soak into the ground where the soil and vegetation can handle it a lot better than the aquatic system.”

 

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