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Environmental group helps make outdoor classroom Pond will be ‘showcase habitat’ for coastal creatures ,Staff Reports

By Staff
Students at two Beaufort County schools will soon have an outdoor classroom-living room combo to study and share.
The Pamlico-Tar River Foundation has been working to transform a 2-acre stormwater pond at P.S. Jones Middle School and the new John Small Elementary School into a “showcase habitat” for plants and animals of the coastal region, according to PTRF executive director Mary Alsentzer. The effort has been joined by a host of volunteers and agencies involved in both education and conservation, according to a prepared statement from PTRF.
Helping provide that educational experience is one of the missions of PTRF, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Pamlico-Tar River basin.
The Washington schools’ pond was installed to be a collection point for stormwater coming off the large parking lots and roofs of the two schools. It’s designed to allow sediment and toxins to settle before the stormwater discharges to Cherry Run, a tributary of Tranters Creek.
A $25,000 grant from the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuarine Program and a $2,500 matching grant from Aurora-based PCS Phosphate paid for a walkway and observation deck near the pond and 8,000 water-tolerant plants for the pond. The pond was also stocked with some largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish, courtesy of the N.C. Division of Wildlife Resources.
The pond will be used as a “demonstration project” for other schools in the region, according to Alsentzer. It will also be used as a hands-on science laboratory for would-be teachers, based on a grant that East Carolina University has received to train them there.