Sustainable Communities Collaborative

The Agriculture and Environment Center's Sustainable Watersheds Program partnered with the Penn State Sustainability Institute this Spring for a series of community engagement opportunities.
Photo Credit: Yunwen Wu, Landscape Architecture

Photo Credit: Yunwen Wu, Landscape Architecture

About the Sustainable Communities Collaborative

The Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) at Penn State is an effort to connect University Park faculty, students, and staff with local communities to address sustainability challenges through an engaged, collaborative effort. To learn more, visit

About the Partnership

The Agriculture and Environment Center became a member of the SCC after their project proposal was accepted. Lead by the AEC interns, the proposed project was to host a Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater workshop, followed by a volunteer implementation of a best-management practice at a local elementary school. 

AEC interns Erin Hill and Kaitlyn Benson worked with many partners to make the program a success. Partners include the Borough of State College, Easterly Parkway Elementary School, Penn State School of Law, Penn State School of Visual Arts, and Behrer Landscaping.

Photo Credit: Paige Snow Kozeniewski, Advertising-Public Relations, and student in Steve Rubin's PHOTO 402 class.

About the AEC Project

Homeowner's Guide To Stormwater Workshop 

The AEC interns hosted a Homeowner's Guide to Stormwater workshop at the Easterly Parkway Elementary School, which was a potential site on which to implement a demonstration best-management-practice.

During the workshop, community members learned how to use the stormwater guide to mitigate stormwater on their property. The interns explained how to use the guide, and then invited participants outside to survey the school property for areas of concern such as gutters, areas of ponding, and steep slopes. Then, the participants identified these areas on a map of the property, and developed a management plan. Participants identified a depressed area on the map and suggested implementing a rain garden.

A rain garden is a depressed area with water-loving plants that help to soak up and filter runoff before going to a stream or into the water tables. A rain garden is useful in areas of ponding that collect excess runoff during a rain event.

The stormwater guide workshop was designed to help participants find resources, and feel confident to go out and repeat the process on their own property.

Photo Credit: Michelle Diaconu, Arts and Architecture, and student in Steve Rubin's PHOTO 402 class.

Volunteer Rain Garden Planting
As a continuation of their program, the AEC interns followed the management plan developed during the stormwater workshop, and coordinated a volunteer planting of a rain garden at the identified location on the map of the Easterly Parkway Elementary School property. Members of all ages volunteered their time and effort, including students from Easterly Parkway Elementary School.

Photo Credit: Yunwen Wu, Lanscape Architecture at Penn State, and student in Steve Rubin's PHOTO 402 class.

The program was a great success, and the rain garden will serve as an educational demonstration of one best-management practice for mitigating stormwater on one's property. 

More Information

To be notified of programs like this in the future, subscribe to the AEC listserv, or check our events for listings of upcoming programs.