A rain barrel project launched by WKU graduate students in an environmental education course is ready to spill over into the local community with a workshop on April 16.
The rain barrel making workshop will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at WKU’s Department of Facilities Management near Parking Structure 1. Registration fee is $40; registration is limited to 20 with a deadline of April 1.
The workshop is sponsored by WKU’s Office of Sustainability and the Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability.
“The rain barrel project is a great example of student engagement being used to help the community,” said Dr. Terry Wilson, director of the CEES.
The project began last fall in Dr. Wilson’s graduate course ENVE 560: Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues. The course is based on a six-step environmental service-learning program known as Earth Force.
“The graduate students inventoried issues on campus and after examining the resources available and the area with the most need, they decided that water management is a major issue that needs attention,” Dr. Wilson said. “This came after some research they did to find out that large amounts of energy is needed every day to clean our water to drinking water standards, although much of that water is used to flush toilets, wash cars and irrigate gardens.”
Working with WKU Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing, the students obtained 55-gallon plastic barrels from Pepsi Co. and designed the rain barrels. One of the first rain barrels built by the students was delivered and installed at President Gary Ransdell’s home.
When a new group of graduate students began the course this semester, Dr. Wilson asked them what service-learning project they’d like to complete. The students decided to continue work on the rain barrel project and expand it into the community as a way to conserve water and energy.
This semester’s students have obtained additional plastic barrels and have purchased paint and materials to build the rain barrels. At the April 16 workshop, participants will learn how to build the rain barrel and can decide how to paint it or decorate it.
The rainwater collected in the barrels can then be used to water plants or gardens. “We’re making something that conserves water and energy and promotes environmental sustainability,” Dr. Wilson said.
Contact: Terry Wilson or Robin Hume, (270) 745-4424.