$15K grant to help fund wetland project


A $15,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation will help fund the transformation of a 7-acre plot of wetland into an educational greenspace at Shamrock Springs Elementary School.

The grant, which was awarded to the Westfield Education Foundation, will support the building of a wetland project known as the Shamrock Outdoor Learning Lab. The wetland will be converted into greenspace to help students and community members develop positive relationships with the environment, other people and each other through interaction with nature, according to school officials.

Robb Hedges, principal at Shamrock Springs Elementary School, said providing hands-on outdoor education opportunities is important.

“Studies show students who learn outdoors develop a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy toward others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative,” Hedges said. “Obviously, these are things we want to develop in our Rocks and in our community, so we are glad that the Duke Energy Foundation is helping turn our vision into a reality.”

The greenspace includes a pond, wetland animals, prairie grass, flowers, a trail and recently planted sapling trees. A boardwalk is being constructed on the west side of the pond and is scheduled for completion in the spring, according to the district.

The foundation plans to purchase floating islands that will be located near the boardwalk with the grant it received. Kim Vogelgesang, Duke Energy Foundation manager, said she is excited about the impact the project will have on the community.

“We are pleased to support Westfield Washington Schools with their Shamrock Outdoor Learning Lab,” she said. “This will serve the community for generations by enriching the development of the green space and managing the watershed through wetland creation and habitat restoration.”