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SDHS Students Learn Job Skills While Improving Water Quality

A South Division High School class began their Global Youth Service Day project with a trip to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District water treatment plant. During their visit, students learned about the incredible challenges to treating, purifying and protecting our invaluable water resources. Applying their newfound understanding, students began to think of ways to improve water quality in their own communities. After much deliberation, students identified a solution that would not only conserve water but reduce sewer drainage- rain barrels.

For their project, students started a business building, selling, and installing rain barrels for community members throughout Milwaukee. Students quickly learned how to communicate and work as a team, developing an assembly process to prepare the barrels. Each student took on a specific role, whether it was cleaning, measuring holes for spickets and overflow, caulking and installing fixtures, or tracing and cutting the tops of barrels.

Next, students thought creatively about how to design each barrel. Partnering with an art class, students wanted barrels to reflect their goal of keeping Milwaukee beautiful. As a result, barrels showcase an array of beautiful, student-designed artwork. Next, students created and advertised an order form, utilizing new skills in business and marketing. Finished and ready to go, barrels were installed at customers’ homes, providing real-world job opportunities to students. After all installations were complete, students expressed a strong sense of accomplishment for not only helping their communities but for making significant and lasting improvements to local water quality.

Students weren’t the only ones to benefit from the project. One community family of avid gardeners needed a rain barrel to collect safer, chemical-free water and reduce home water usage around the garden. Given its many positive benefits, the barrel was provided by the students free of charge. In another case, a local non-profit suffered from storm water issues. Quickly responding to their need, students provided an additional rain barrel. By the project’s end, eight students contributed a combined total of over 140 hours- installing two, donating two and selling another six rain barrels.

This Global Youth Service Day project was funded by the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc. (Sweet Water)



About Global Youth Service Day

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes millions of youth to improve their communities each year through community service. Celebrated in over 100 countries, GYSD is the largest service event in the world. During GYSD, youth address the world's most critical issues in partnership with families, schools, communities, faith-based organizations, businesses, and governments.



Bonnie Andrews

Petra Duecker

Lead Site:
William Malone
(414) 286 - 5894