Coe receives funding to support construction of campus rain garden

Extra: Erin Salisbury, Marketing and Public Relations Intern

2011-12-07 11:45:14 - General

Coe Chemistry Professor Marty St. Clair helps build the new Coe rain garden. The project was made possible through funding provided by a grant from the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency and a contribution from the Coe College class of 2008.

Coe College continues to make strides in its “green” efforts with the construction of the campus’s first-ever rain garden. Funded by a $9,600 grant from the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency and a $3,200 contribution from the Coe College class of 2008, the 210 square foot garden is being built on the north side of Hickok Hall on the Coe campus.

The rain garden is being created with two specific goals in mind. First, the garden will allow runoff to infiltrate the ground instead of going directly into the storm sewer system as it currently does. Second, Coe plans to use the garden for research and education efforts for Coe students and faculty, as well as the Cedar Rapids community.

Coe Chemistry Professor Marty St. Clair is the leader of this project.  He plans to have students study the effects of the water going into the rain garden, as well as the water leaving the rain garden. With the help of his students, St. Clair will measure the amount of rain entering the rain garden, the water table level, and the rate at which moisture makes its way through the soil. Finally, St. Clair hopes the rain garden will find uses in courses in Coe’s new environmental studies major. Amy Bouska, an urban conservationist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), says there is no other site in Iowa where the effectiveness of a rain garden is being studied in this way.

Bouska assisted in designing the rain garden, along with Linn County Soil and Water Conservation employee Jon Gallagher and Culver’s Lawn and Landscape. The installation of the garden was recently finished, and planting is planned for the spring of 2012. While the exact nature of the plantings is yet to be determined, St. Clair says they will “utilize native plants as much as possible while keeping the garden consistent with the look of the rest of the campus.”

For more information on Coe’s “green” and sustainability initiatives, please visit