AGNR Students Help Secure Funds for Rain Barrels in PG County
Making a difference for your community and the environment can start with an idea as simple as catching rain drops in a barrel. Just ask Gabrielle Rovegno and Mallori McDowell, two students within Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Gabrielle, an undergraduate studying Environmental Science and Technology, and Mallori, a graduate student in Marine and Estuarine Environmental Science, were hired last year as interns to complete a feasibility study for a rain barrel program in Prince George’s County. The idea came from Prince George’s County Council Member Eric Olson who reached out to Christie Balch, Extension Program Coordinator for the University of Maryland’s Center for Educational Partnership.
After being hired by the campus’ Office of Sustainability, Gabrielle and Mallori went to work on their study last fall. The duo contacted numerous organizations around the country, met with dozens of community leaders from Prince George’s County, and spoke with local residents to gauge interest in these potential programs. To wrap up their semester-long project, Gabrielle and Mallori presented their impressive report to the County Council’s Committee on Transportation, Housing and the Environment. Soon after, the students received word that Council Members Mary Lehman and Eric Olson submitted a bill to add $30,000 to the county budget for rain barrels, which was ultimately approved.
In the summer of 2012, the interns launched the first rain barrel workshop open to all Prince George’s County Residents. Future plans involve seeking grants or other funding sources to expand this program.
“I don’t even have the words to do this internship justice in how it’s transformed my life,” said Gabrielle. “Due to the nature of Extension, there are so many more opportunities and avenues to venture out into.”
For their outstanding work on this project, Gabrielle Rovegno and Mallori McDowell were nominated for the Rebecca Williams Award to Commitment to Social Change through the University of Maryland.