By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend
Penn State Behrend is known for its park-like campus with lush lawns, natural wooded areas, raingardens, landscaped pathways, and colorful flowerbeds.
While Mother Nature does a pretty good job of watering at Behrend, there are times the college’s groundskeeping crew has to step in and give parched plants a drink.
But just as a mother’s milk is best for babies, Mother Nature’s “milk” is best for plants. They thrive on natural rain water, which contains no chlorine, ammonia, fluoride, or other chemicals found in municipal water systems.
Now, thanks to a public art project—Don’t Give Up the Drip—conceived and orchestrated by Erie-area environmental agencies, Behrend is able to collect and save rain water for plants in three new fifty-five gallon rain barrels on campus—one at the Health and Wellness building, one at Turnbull Hall, and one at Erie Hall.
These aren’t just plain plastic rain barrels though; they are works of art.
“Our goal was to showcase our local art talent while educating the community about the benefits of harvesting rainwater and water conservation and health,” said Kristen Currier, environmental educator at the Erie County Conservation District, one of the organizations behind the art project.
A total of fifty-two plastic barrels were transformed by forty-six different artists. The barrels then were placed in publically accessible locations throughout the Erie area, including three at Penn State Behrend.
The rainwater will be used to quench the thirst of Behrend’s vast flora.
“Erie receives above average rainfall annually. Still, throughout the summer we experience shortages and the rain barrels are extremely useful then,” said Ann Quinn, director of Greener Behrend, an environmental service club on campus. “The water stored will be used to water nearby plants on our campus in a sustainable, simple way.”
Resulting, of course, in a greener Behrend.
4 reasons to collect rainwater:
- It is better for your plants — it’s fluoride and chlorine free.
- It will lower your water usage (and water bills).
- It cuts down on flooding and erosion of the land around buildings.
- It reduces runoff — the water that washes pollutants into our streams and lakes during rainstorms.
“The Green Man” by artist Luke Gehring
Location: Health and Wellness Center
“Save our water” by artist Lewis Prest
Location: Turnbull Hall
“The Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly” by artist Downia Glass
Location: Erie Hall
Want to see all the barrels?
For a map to the location of all the rain barrels in the Erie area, click here.