Reilly Kelly, AmeriCorps member, uses the stormwater model during a lesson with River City YouthBuild students.

Students from Elizabeth City-based River City YouthBuild recently spent time at the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Wanchese office and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island for a fall field trip.

Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator, and Reilly Kelly, the AmeriCorps member at that office, hosted 14 students and staff from River City YouthBuild. Hallas and Kelly visited the students in Elizabeth City earlier in the year for a stormwater lesson.

Elizabeth City is about 90 minutes from the Outer Banks. Students participating in River City YouthBuild enjoy getting to spend time out on the coast and learning more about a unique environment that’s not too far from their homes.

“The students had a blast,” said Angie Wills, the River City YouthBuild program manager and a federation board member. “We appreciate our partnership with the Coastal Federation and the new experiences for our students to explore beyond Elizabeth City.”

One of the federation’s main goals is to include people from all walks of life in its environmental education programs. River City YouthBuild provides education and employment skills for economically disadvantaged young adults aged 16-24, often high school drop-outs. They get hands-on construction experience while also learning about entrepreneurship, and the organization offers community service, academic and leadership development opportunities.

The federation has been partnering with River City YouthBuild for several years, and hundreds of students have participated in lessons, living shoreline building workdays and other activities.

At this fall field trip, students explored the rain garden, pervious pavement and rain barrel at the Wanchese office while learning about how reducing the volume of stormwater runoff improves water quality.

They will continue their work on stormwater reduction projects in early 2018. A grant from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership will support the installation of new stormwater reduction projects at Renaissance Square in Elizabeth City. Students will help work on these projects.

Students spent time exploring the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

Students continued their stormwater lessons on this field trip during a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, where Kathy Mitchell, conservation horticulturist at the aquarium, talked about the stormwater reduction projects. The aquarium has a rain garden and three large cisterns. These reduce the amount of stormwater runoff reaching local waterways, and the cisterns help conserve water.

Following all the talk about stormwater runoff, students got to see what these projects help protect during a tour of the aquarium. They learned more about native plants and local marine life that depend on clean water.