Rain Garden Presents Valuable Volunteer Opportunity

Sean Wu // The Watchdog

On Nov. 1, Bellevue College Grounds Crew workers Brandon Ellsworth and Kolin Poss organized a volunteer opportunity that I decided to attend.

On the south side of the T Building lies a rain garden. The term “rain garden” is defined as “a beautiful and effective way to clean polluted stormwater runoff. A rain garden acts like a miniature native forest by collecting, absorbing, and filtering stormwater runoff from roof tops, driveways, patios, and other areas that don’t allow water to soak in. They can be built at several scales and one may be just right for your home or neighborhood,” according to Washington State University’s website. BC currently has rain gardens incorporated into the landscapes around buildings H, T and U — all of which Ellsworth, Poss and one other individual work to maintain the beauty of. 

As the duo was already hard at work when I arrived, I stepped in and grabbed equipment from their nearby buckets. Ellsworth and Poss provided all equipment, such as knee pads, gloves and various tools, making the gardening process much easier. I joined in on the current task of noxious weed pulling as Ellsworth, the grounds crew supervisor, informed me about what gardening entails on the BC campus. Him, Poss and another individual are the only three people on BC’s Grounds Crew. At the beginning of my volunteering, Ellsworth stated that “the more effort you put in a space, the more you can also get out of it.” While BC’s campus continues to remain manicured, it is these six hands hard at work behind the scene that result in our campus’s beauty. 

This volunteer opportunity is a wonderful way to connect with other BC students you might not otherwise meet. Poss touched on this at the beginning of my volunteering when asked about the benefits of this community work: “It’s a good community event. You might meet someone who shares the same passion as you and you can continue that relationship [outside of this event].” He continued by touching on the student opportunities that can follow this volunteering: “It’s good for us, too. We’re always looking for student workers and people to share the vision with. […] We don’t normally meet with students [but] their perspective counts a lot towards what we’re trying to do.”

When asked why this opportunity is important, Ellsworth shed light on the many aspects to this job: “This task in particular is important because it does coalesce around a lot of different environmental policies and ideas that BC has in general. It’s water retention; it’s how we harvest. How we have grown what we’ve added — I mean, a lot of the plants in here we have grown from seed ourselves.” He continued by discussing why he decided to offer this to the student body: “I have noticed that there’s an unfortunate number of young adults who don’t know the native trees around here, or the native plants, or they don’t know what is or is not good, or [what they] can and cannot touch. […] I want people to walk away knowing more about their natural environment.”

An hour passed as we continued to weed through the rain garden. More volunteers arrived and they moved on to deadheading daisies and chopping-and-dropping native lupins. Ellsworth stated that he wanted this opportunity to pose as an education experience. Considering that I learned about a new form of mushroom, what a rain garden is and the dedication put into making BC’s campus feel special, I would say he succeeded in this desire. As I left the rain garden, Ellsworth’s words from earlier rang in my mind: “Right plant, right place. Give everything a room to grow.”

This volunteer opportunity is offered again on Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the same location. Students can stop in at any time. Ellsworth informed me that the Grounds Crew is planning on “doing more weeding and giving a demonstration on proper pruning techniques: the when’s, why’s and how’s.”

Find out more about the event here.