And the winners are…

Associate Pastor Kjell Ferris and youngsters from Christ Lutheran
Associate Pastor Kjell Ferris and youngsters from Christ
Lutheran Church in Blaine celebrate with replica of their
$500 prize.

Three groups – four fourth-grade classes in Apple Valley, youth from a Lutheran Church’s confirmation program in Blaine and a Boys and Girls Club in St. Cloud – have won $500 apiece for anti-pollution projects aimed at keeping leaves and other organic debris out of lakes and rivers.

The contest was sponsored by Freshwater and InCommons to encourage small neighborhood-based efforts to reduce the phosphorus pollution that leads to excessive algae growth in surface waters throughout Minnesota. The Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation also was a sponsor and contributed the prize for the St. Cloud winner.

Members of Christ Lutheran confirmation program

The winners were:

  • Four fourth-grade classes at Cedar Park Elementary School in Apple Valley, where students operated a drop-off site at the school that allowed Apple Valley residents to recycle leaves.
  • About 130 youth and a nearly equal number of parents from Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine,
    Christ Lutheran youth empty leaf bags

    who raked leaves from yards, parks and streets in neighborhoods around the church on Oct. 12, 2011.

  • Members of the Eastside Boys & Girls Club in St. Cloud, who raked leaves in and around the park for two purposes: to keep the leaves out of the nearby Mississippi River, and to mulch vegetable and flower gardens.

Cedar Park Elementary is a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade magnet school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. The fourth-graders operated the leaf drop-off as part of their study of water conservation and water quality. View a video in which the students describe their project.

Monica Foss, an engineering teacher who entered the classes in the competition, said part of the $500 prize will be used to buy water-testing equipment to study the release of phosphorus as leaves disintegrate in water.

Club Director Katie Ruprecht, left, and Norm Anderson,
at rear, with Eastside Boys & Girls Club members.

Before they conducted the leaf collection, students learned that leaves left in the street often are washed into storm sewers and then into nearby streams. “There was a conception that you can just rake the leaves into the street and the city will come clean them up, and that just doesn’t happen,” Foss said.

The fourth-graders ran their drop-off site on Oct. 24 and 25, 2011, and they have another collection scheduled on Nov. 14, 2011

In Blaine, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the Christ Lutheran confirmation program raked leaves – in the rain — for a number of elderly residents and then invited the residents back to the church for a celebratory meal of hotdogs, brats and beans.

Kjell Ferris, Christ Lutheran’s associate pastor, said the group collected about 140 bags of leaves.
“To see the faces of the kids and adults when they came back from raking – they were smiling, they were laughing,” Ferris said. “They had had a great time helping out some folks in the neighborhood.”

Part of the $500 prize will pay for the post-clean-up meal and part will pay for bags and tools for this year’s clean-up and a future clean-up, according to Ferris. And the money may help initiate a community art project on faith and the environment, he said.

In St. Cloud, Norm Anderson, a Benton County master gardener, has been helping elementary-school-age members of the Boys & Girls Club raise flowers, herbs and vegetables in gardens that club director Katie Ruprecht had begun several years ago.

Under Anderson’s direction, the club members raked leaves off a parking lot to keep them out of the Mississippi. The youngsters composted some of the leaves and used others to mulch the gardens.

The $500 prize, Ruprecht said, will be used to improve the gardens and make some landscaping changes aimed at fighting erosion.


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