RainScapes for Schools

RainScapes for Schools is a voluntary program where educational projects like rain gardens and conservation landscapes can be implemented on Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) property with help from volunteers and technical support from the Department of Environmental Protection. These projects both reduce stormwater pollution and provide educational opportunities for students by strengthening their connection to nature during their school day. 

Image of a RainScapes schools program.

The RainScapes for Schools program provides consultation and materials for these curriculum based outdoor classroom projects. All MCPS schools are eligible to apply for the RainScapes for Schools program provided they agree to provide volunteer labor for the installation and maintenance of the projects and have a source of materials for the project.

In addition to the RainScapes for Schools program, MCPS high schools can apply for the RainScapes Growing Program . This program utilizes high school greenhouses for the production of plants during the second semester. This program aligns with MCPS high school horticulture curriculum and may be used as a hands on curricular piece in AP Environmental classes. 

Opportunities Available:

  • RainScapes for Schools (All grade levels (K-12) at Montgomery County Public Schools eligible (site and project review)

  • RainScapes Growing Program (For horticulture and AP environmental science classes)

Private schools in Montgomery County interested in installing RainScapes projects and receiving a rebate should apply through our  RainScapes Rewards Rebate Program for commercial and institutional properties category.

DEP Resources for Schools

How Watershed Friendly is your School?

This report card allows you to score your school grounds on a number of environmental aspects. How did your school do? What can you do to make it a better environment? Interested in doing a RainScapes for School project at your school? Contact us for more information at: rainscapes@montgomerycountymd.gov.

RainScapes for Schools Growing Program Videos

RainScapes for Schools Growing program presents - 4 part video series: 10 weeks to success with native plants – from landscape plugs to planting.

Stormwater Management on MCPS Properties

Most MCPS schools have stormwater management features in their grounds. The types of features vary, depending on when the school was designed and what the grounds layout allowed. MCPS and DEP coordinate efforts to ensure that stormwater management practices on school properties are in good working condition, providing the water quality and water quantity benefits for our local water resources such as streams and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

If you wish to find out about facilities on your school property, contact DEP.

RainScapes for Schools Report

RainScapes for Schools have a number of goals and projects. The report on projects done by RainScapes for Schools 2010 - 2015 provides a brief overview of each project in addition to the overall accomplishments of the project.

Watershed Restoration and Watershed Health / Monitoring Links

Restoration Projects:

Watershed restoration is an ongoing effort by DEP. Restoration is based on watershed studies and requires trained planners, designers, engineers and a wide range of environmental construction and biological expertise. Learn more about the process for restoration and where to find local restoration efforts on the Watershed Restoration page.

Our map shows the location of all our projects in Montgomery County. Click on the map to get more information about the process and tools used when restoring a stream, adding in storm water management to road right of ways or to modify older storm water facilities to enhance performance.

Watershed Outreach:

Are you interested in having a Department of Environmental Protection staff member participate in a school career day or provide a presentation to your class or school?   Contact DEP to request a speaker. 

Other Resources

State and Local Curricular Requirements

RainScapes for Schools will provide materials and funds to projects which are linked to K-12 curricular goals and which will improve stormwater runoff conditions on school property.

The program supports the Maryland State Department of Natural Resources "Partnership for Children" recommendations on Environmental Literacy Goals by funding projects which provide environmental features on school properties and which can be used to teach about stormwater, water quality, native plants, wildlife habitat pollination, Bay health and other components of environmental literacy at each of the K-12 levels. Their site also includes links to BayScapes and Schoolyard habitat sites as well as the Maryland Green Ribbon Schools program.

Image of Students Working on Rainscapes Projects

MSDE standards RainScapes for Schools supports the  Maryland State Department of Education's Environmental Literacy Goals by funding projects which provide environmental features on school properties and which can be used to teach about stormwater , Bay health and environmental literacy at each of the K-12 levels. The eight  MSDE  standards cover a range of environmental concerns. The standards are interactive and focus on the need for students to develop critical thinking skills. The requirements for infusion of the environmental literacy standard by grade are detailed in the MSDE Environmental Toolkit

The MSDE web site covers a range of environmental concerns. The standards are interactive and focus on the need for students to develop critical thinking skills. The eight standards for environmental literacy are detailed on the MSDE web site . The final standard, Sustainability , forms the other major support to the framework. Natural processes are studied through the standards relating to the life and Earth sciences. Human systems are investigated through differing geographic, cultural, societal, economic and political views. The interaction of these natural and human systems constitutes the majority of the study with the concept of sustainability as the equilibrium point, the touchstone of positive human and natural interactions. 

  • A Practical Guide to Planning, Constructing, and Using School Courtyards:  The 103 page guide details the benefits of using outdoor classrooms as learning environments. This publication addresses the use of courtyards in instruction and provides examples of creative instructional strategies from around the state and beyond. Descriptions of materials, treatments of courtyards, safety and security implications, preferred sizes and volume of courtyard spaces, orientation considerations, maintenance strategies and code requirements are addressed as well.

Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools also has a number of curricular standards in their K-12 framework; one example is found in this  Stream Study lesson plan. It is not necessary to install a RainScapes garden to support curricular concepts, particularly on school sites with bioretention or other Environmental Site Design / Low Impact Development planted stormwater management facilities. Environmental Education Curriculum for MCPS can be found on the Lathrop E. Smith Center website.

For schools with no ESD projects, installing a RainScapes project can provide a hands-on, renewable resource for lessons supporting subjects of environmental stewardship, habitat enhancement, and conservation. Specific lessons from the science curriculum in 2nd, 4th, and 6th grades and/or the AP Environmental Science and Environmental Horticulture courses can be supported too. Other subjects such as art, English writing assignments, social studies, and biology are also able to be taught in a holistic manner using the environment as an integrated context for learning for curricular goals using the projects built with RainScapes funding.

Alignment with the Montgomery County Public Schools' Strategic Plan

RainScapes Schools projects provide an opportunity for schools to strengthen community and family relationships for their student populations. Support and maintenance for the project from year to year will typically be shared among a parent or community group and a teacher or group of teachers at a school.

Image of Rainscapes at School

Hands-on, inquiry based learning opportunities are provided by the experience of planting, observing, maintaining and learning from gardens and habitat based site projects. Such inquiry based learning has compelling support in the data as being a source of boosting student achievement, improving behavior and reducing truancy. The benefits ascribed to garden and habitat based on-site education are consistent with the  current Montgomery County Public Schools Strategic Planning Framework. The framework is structured around three areas: Academic Excellence, Creative Problem Solving, and Social Emotional Learning.