LC Students Creating Amherst County Wetland

Reporter: Jeremy Mills

Amherst Co., VA - They're finding out what it takes to create a natural wetland. Environmental science majors from Lynchburg College are transforming an area in Amherst County, as a part of their class project. And they're getting a little help from a group of third graders.

They started two months ago, hoping to change this ecosystem into a self-sustaining marsh.

"All the plants we planted are growing really well, the cattails are taking off," said Lynchburg College Professor, Dr. Tom Shahady.

It's taken a lot of work, picking out all the weeds and grass and building a natural run-off to collect all the water.

"I don't expect it to be very deep you know, maybe a foot or so hopefully, that's what we designed it to be," said Dr. Shahady.

They've had plenty of help. Third graders from Elon Elementary have been here from the start because this land is on school property.

"It's really to get kids to be outside and involved with nature," said Melissa Busse, 3rd Grade Teacher.

"It's fun because I mean you are teaching them on a basic level and some of them actually know more than we do. We're learning stuff about wetlands and they're telling us about plants, but it's cool though, they're smart kids," said Paul Landolfi.

Some of the college students say the most fun has been getting the youngsters even more interested in their surroundings.

"Maybe not just this, but anything with the environment, if you get them out here young enough, they'll hopefully get a connection," said Jillian Dunnam, Lynchburg College Senior.

This project will take a while to develop, probably a couple of years.

"We're in it for the long haul, we're ready to see them grow from year to year, see how the plants grow," said Busse.

When it's done, it should be a new home for frogs and turtles.

And no more flooding around the school.

"It drains all the water from the whole parking lot and fields and hopefully it's just more of a natural environment than what they had here before," said Landolfi.

The students have planted red maples, river birch and ash trees in the wetland. They say those plants will help filter the water.