Stroud Elementary School was awarded the 5 Star EPA Grant with help from Watershed UGA for use in the Stroud Elementary School Creekside Trail Restoration and Education Project. The project intends to restore a 3/4 mile creek-side trail, 4,500 ft of riparian habitat, and 48 acres of forest to improve water quality and aquatic/terrestrial habitat at Trail Creek. Additionally, with this grant, three outdoor classrooms will be created to provide educational opportunities to Stroud Elementary students and the nearby community. These classrooms will host associated curricula in water quality monitoring and protection, plant and animal life and its interaction with the watershed, the function of wetlands, and educational and career opportunities in the field of environmental protection.
Stroud Elementary serves a diverse community including children from farms, suburban subdivisions, and urban neighborhoods, including federal housing. Over 96% of Stroud students may receive free and reduced meals from the National School Lunch Program, and 94.7% of students are of an ethnic minority. Trail Creek runs in the forested hillside behind the school, a stream which due to urban stormwater runoff, remains impaired. Along the stream is a long-abandoned trail. Most Stroud faculty were unaware of the trails existence until early 2017. The trail is littered with felled trees and branches, and is often obscured by invasive species; a bridge and boardwalk are in serious disrepair, and the riparian zone and surrounding forest are covered in privet. With aid from University of Georgia graduate students, Stroud's 4th and 5th grade international award-winning problem-solving team has developed a plan for the restoration of the trail and surrounding forest. With expert input from federal and local environmental agency partners, these students are developing a detailed plan for three outdoor classrooms including benches, signage, and curricula. These classrooms will address the natural resources on site and strategies for their protection including control of nonpoint source pollution and stormwater management practices. Fifteen different community partners are providing expertise, physical aid, and more resources to this venture.