If you live on the streets around Blue Bird Park or River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, you might have noticed that your storm drains now have a stenciled message on them.

The message says “Don’t Pollute, Drains To Cannon River.” Residents also received door hangers reminding homeowners that by keeping grass, leaves, and fertilizers off of the sidewalk, driveway and street, they can help keep our rivers and lakes cleaner.

Over the past few weeks, both the River Bend Nature Center Water Warriors Summer Camp kids and the Divine Mercy Catholic Church Summer Stretch kids spent some time stenciling storm drains and hanging educational flyers on door knobs.

“The goal for these events is to reach as many people as we can to educate them about keeping the storm drains clean and therefore our waterways clean,” said city of Faribault Water Quality Specialist Becky Smith.

And while cleaning storm drains, hanging flyers and stenciling was hard work, especially on our warm August days, the groups saw a lot of benefits from their efforts.

“Summer Stretch did this because we wanted the youth to see how their small act of service can have an impact on the greater good for our community,” said Divine Mercy Director of Youth Formation Terri Hunt.

Children and adults learned how the storm drains in a neighborhood dump directly into area rivers and lakes, and how anything that goes down a storm drain, including leaves and grass, can pollute area rivers. After that they learned about how to safely stencil storm drains and hang flyers (wearing yellow vests and using a red safety cone). Then teams of five to six youth and an adult set off to work.

While participants seemed to like many parts of the project, “spray painting” was the most popular activity by far. Students learned that it works best to spray quickly with the stencils to create a crisp image on the pavement. This example of “leaving your mark” was popular with students as well.

“Our campers really felt a sense of ownership in their work,” said River Bend Nature Center Program Coordinator Kelly Peterson. “They loved the importance they felt when wearing the safety vest, putting out traffic cones, and spraying a long-lasting message for neighbors to read. After we finished, we drove around the neighborhood to view our work and they had so much pride showcasing their clean streets and storm drains to the other stenciling groups.”

The two groups stenciled 66 storm drains and handed out 302 door hangers as part of their work.

Cannon River Watershed Partnership works with community groups to stencil storm drains as part of a Stormwater Education Contract with the city of Faribault. Groups that would like to take part in a clean water service project or would like to help out in the Sept. 21 Watershed-Wide CleanUP in Faribault, visit www.crwp.net or call 507-786-3913 for more information.

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