Colloquium students design rain garden for Fort Myers watershed

A Florida Gulf Coast University colloquium class taught by Professor Brenda Thomas is helping out this semester with the local nonprofit conservation organization Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed Land and Water Trust in creating a rain garden near its on-site pavilion.
The rain garden will collect water and disperse it into the surrounding ecosystems safely instead of rooftop runoff from the pavilion.
At the beginning of the semester, Thomas split members of the class into funding and design groups to work on the project.
“The rain garden my students are developing at the CREW Marsh Trails will serve multiple purposes,” Thomas said.
“First, it will help protect the water quality of the Corkscrew Marsh by using the natural filtration plants provide to clean stormwater runoff. Second, it will serve as an educational tool for the public that has the ability to create the same landscape design in their own yards. And finally, it will add beauty to a shelter (Suzanne’s Pavilion) that honors the life of a woman who valued what CREW stands for,” Thomas said.
The class is in the final stages of rendering the design and looking for grants and possible donations to help fund the rain garden.
“What I learned most from this project is the importance of the small environmental practices,” said Anastasia Jenney, a junior environmental studies major and student in Thomas’ colloquium class. “They add up to large contributions and benefits. Learning how to make a rain garden, see exactly how it operates and see the benefits it has for the owner and environment is very interesting.”
If you are interested in volunteering for or know of grants that CREW could apply for, go to
“One of the best parts of my job is connecting students with the natural world,” Thomas said. “Even better is when that connection happens by way of service-learning with a community partner dedicated to preserving the natural world while educating others about its importance. CREW Land & Water Trust is a small nonprofit organization that does just that.”