Onondaga County Save the Rain Supports Science Education in Syracuse through Baltimore Woods' Nature in the City Program

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Thanks to a partnership with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s Save the Rain program, third graders from Syracuse City elementary schools will wade into the stream at Elmwood Park this spring to study aquatic invertebrates (crayfish and water insects) in order to gauge water quality. This hands-on program is one component of Baltimore Woods Nature Center’s Nature in the City program, a K-6 science education program that links 19 Syracuse city schools with local parks and green spaces, connecting children to science using their own neighborhoods. 
 
For over 3 years, Onondaga County Save the Rain has partnered with Nature in the City, to teach 3rd grade children about the water cycle, pollution, storm runoff and how Onondaga County uses green infrastructure projects to improve the water quality of Onondaga Lake. The 3rd grade program on Save the Rain includes three, one-hour long lessons that align with the New York State science curriculum.

The Save the Rain Program is County Executive Mahoney’s award-winning program to improve the water quality of Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. To date, the County has advanced more than 175 distinct green infrastructure projects, on public and private property. Onondaga County is a national model for the implementation of a balanced approach to storm water management – a combination of smart gray investments with innovative green infrastructure solutions. Onondaga Lake has seen tremendous improvement in water quality and the ecosystem is thriving.

In addition to program funding, Onondaga County Save the Rain has developed Green Infrastructure projects in or near local schools to show children successful examples of green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and porous pavement, and their impacts on water quality. At Seymour Elementary, students maintain a rain garden in their playground area that was created in 2012 through Save the Rain. Dr. King Elementary students can see the benefits of porous pavement that was laid in front of their school to reduce run off into the storm sewer system, thus allowing rainwater to re-absorb into the ground.
 
Nature in the City is a successful working example of a partnership between public, private and non-for-profit sectors of the community. The Syracuse City School District funds a portion through annual budgeting and Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program supports the 3rd grade lessons in 11 of the 19 Syracuse City School District elementary schools.  Local corporations with a vested interest in promoting STEM education sponsor individual schools each year.

For the current 2014/15 school year corporate and foundation sponsors include:  National Grid, SRC, Key Bank, Carrier, Lockheed Martin, Byrne Dairy, O’Brien and Gere, The Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, Colonial Laundromat, Maxian+Horst, Dominion, Upstate Medical University, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation, Lockheed Martin Employee Federated Fund, and Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds. Baltimore Woods Nature Center and its certified educators implement the program.