Education Spotlight: Watershed Education in the Bluegrass

Community Watershed Education programs are something Bluegrass Greensource (BGGS) knows how to implement. We work with many communities throughout Central Kentucky to teach youth and adult programs about the importance of good water quality. For the past few years, BGGS has worked on a youth watershed education program with an artistic outcome. Through our partnerships with the Friends of Stoner Creek and the Kentucky Division of Water, Bourbon County students participated in watershed-based environmental education throughout the year. Then they depicted their knowledge of our creeks and streams by creating watershed art for the Friends of Stoner Creek Art Competition. The lessons focused on water quality, riparian buffers, and aquatic habitats. The top three winners received a cash prize and free passes to attend the Annual Friends of Stoner Creek picnic in August. The top three Winners are as follows:

1st Place – Laney W.

Bourbon County Middle School

2nd Place – Brynlea C.

Bourbon Christian Academy

3rd Place – Carly P.

Bourbon Christian Academy


Education Spotlight: Mary G. Hogsett Wins Green Ribbon Schools Award

We are thrilled to spotlight Mary G. Hogsett Primary School this month! They recently were recognized as one of the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees for their work to reduce campus impacts, improve health and wellness, and integrate environmental education! Hogsett’s primary students are immersed in thematic units on birds and trees, monitor trees, and bluebird boxes they have adopted on the school grounds. In their monthly lessons with Bluegrass Greensource, they’ve also been learning about water and water quality. This week, they planted hundreds of native plants along a stormwater drainage area in front of their school with their families.

Read more about their Green Ribbon award »


Get ready for Lexington Water Week – March 18-25 with Our Resource Library!

Lexington Water Week is right around the corner and we have an entire Resource Library available for checkout so you can bring water education to your classroom or home! With over 90,000 miles of surface rivers and streams in Kentucky, there is so much to learn about our water systems, the importance of those systems in supplying our communities with a healthy water supply, and how to ensure those sources stay protected – that’s where our Resource Library comes in.

We house a free library of classroom materials, books, and other resources available for teachers and community members to check out. Resources may be checked out for a maximum of two weeks and can be picked up from/dropped off at our offices Monday-Friday 9am-4pm by appointment. Here are just a few of the items in our library that you can check out specifically for water education:

  • Preserved macroinvertebrate specimens, including a crayfish, dragonfly larvae, and leech! This kit also includes ID keys for macroinvertebrates.
  • Kit for a stream study, including flashcards for identification of salamanders, frogs and toads, macroinvertebrates, and turtles. The stream walk kit also includes 5 small nets, bug viewers, a turbidity tube, books and more.
  • Classroom set of mini stream table kits for experimenting with and observing erosion.
  • Book sets on Wetlands and Aquatic Systems
  • Incredible Journey (Learning activity that explores the movement of water through the natural water cycle.)
  • …and MORE!

Save the date for Lexington Water Week March 18-25 and make sure to contact for additional information or click here to reserve materials.


Staff Spotlight: Staff Members Recognized for Their Achievements

Rachel Patton, Environmental Educator

2022 M.K. Dickerson Outstanding Educator Award

Since beginning at BGGS, Rachel has developed a robust preschool education program. First through the development of the Junior Nature Program (JNE) and then expanded with the development of the Junior Energy Explorers Program (JEE). This past year, across Central Kentucky Rachel led education in 41 preschool classrooms for JNE and worked with 27 preschool classrooms and led six energy labs for caregivers and preschool students for JEE. This honor is well deserved and we are so proud to have her as a part of our team!

Chris Howard, Watershed Coordinator

Appointed Member of the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Authority

Since joining the BGGS team last November as our Watershed Coordinator, Chris has worked diligently to further water quality education and improvement within our service region. He has hosted public workshops and implemented private and public projects such as riparian buffer plantings, septic system repairs, and rain garden plantings. In addition to these programs, Chris has worked to host field days for community education and continued to build partnerships for future water quality improvement projects. As representative for Environmental Groups At Large on the commission, his role is to represent the interest of environmental organizations in the Bluegrass. We’re so proud of Chris and all he has accomplished and look forward to seeing him grow our water quality programming even further!
UPDATE: Chris was also recently commissioned a Kentucky Colonel! More on that later…


Education Spotlight: “Wonders of Wind” Teacher Workshop

We continue to be “blown away” by the amazing classroom teachers out there! This month, 18 teachers from many schools in our service region joined us for a STEM-based preschool curriculum training focused on wind energy. We had a blast investigating the power of wind in a wind tunnel, wind-dispersed seeds, ways to measure the wind, and more! Teachers reflected on ways to incorporate scientific thinking and these types of investigations. With their new training, they will be taking what they’ve learned back to their own classrooms to share with their students.


Endings and Beginnings

By Anna Ackerman

The smell of the garden as the summer season slips into fall is one of my favorite things. The last Zinnias wither on their stems as the temperature cools. Even though it may seem final, the seeds can be saved and replanted in the spring.

Some years we keep the garden going year round, planting fall crops like kale, and then garlic before winter sets in. But everything needs a rest, including the garden soil, and some years we give it a break. The best way we have found to replenish and protect the soil is to plant a cover crop. The summer after we grow a winter cover crop, we notice fewer weeds in our garden and a better harvest. This year, we planted winter rye, a hardy cereal grain. Scarlett, our white rock hen, helped by eating all the grubs and worms my dad dug up as he prepared the soil.


Winter rye germinates quickly. Within a few weeks, the garden will be covered in a lush, green carpet that chokes out irritating weeds. In the spring, we mow it down and then till it under, adding all the nutrients back into the soil. There is a reason it is called “green manure”.


Winter Rye Grass has many benefits:

  • The roots of the rye are deep and penetrate easily into the ground, helping to break up heavy clay soil which is common in Kentucky.
  • The plant traps nitrogen which is released when it decomposes after being tilled and cut in the spring. 
  • It is one of the hardiest of the winter cover crops and tolerates a late planting date (which was good for my family this year because we procrastinated and did not plant until late October). 
  • The rye germinates easily and can grow at very low temperatures and only goes dormant if there is a hard freeze

There are several good options for cover crops in Kentucky.  You can read more about them here.


School Spotlight: Eastern Second Graders Investigate Alternative Forms of Energy

By Melissa Smedley, Second Grade Teacher, Eastern Elementary School, Georgetown

In Science class, second graders at Eastern Elementary School have been taught about alternative forms of energy. They have discussed natural energy sources including water, wind, and the sun. This study, however, took on a very real and delicious meaning to second graders this week.

Bluegrass Greensource is a nonprofit organization which uses grants to fund various environmental education projects for public school students. Through this organization, and with the help of Mrs. Pattie Stivender, second grade classes used solar ovens to make S’mores. Each child created their own packet of deliciousness including graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Then, each child observed the construction of a solar oven. When their packets were placed in the oven, and the ovens were placed in the sunlight, the oven went to work melting the marshmallows and chocolate into ooey-gooey goodness. After lunch, of course, each child delighted in their creation and was much more aware of what solar energy is capable of doing for us.

Pictured: Callie Paynter, Allie Kemper, and Fred McNeel from Mrs. Smedley’s class proudly carry the solar ovens.