MSU, Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum receive EPA honor

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

The Environmental Protection Agency recognized Mississippi State University with the regional 2015 EPA Rain Catcher Award in the neighborhood/community category for excellence in stormwater green infrastructure practices at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville.
The Environmental Protection Agency recognized Mississippi State University with the regional 2015 EPA Rain Catcher Award in the neighborhood/community category for excellence in stormwater green infrastructure practices at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville.
Photo by: Megan Bean

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State University is the 2015 neighborhood/community-level recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4's Rain Catcher Award for its role in implementing the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum's rain garden program.

The EPA Rain Catcher Award recognizes the efforts of more than 200 MSU undergraduate and graduate-level landscape architecture, landscape contracting, architecture, art, building science construction and graphic design students who designed and built the museum's green infrastructure and sustainable building technologies over a five-year period, according to faculty advisor Cory Gallo.

The museum project was formally recognized Tuesday [June 16] during the 2015 EPA Region 4/International Erosion Control Association Municipal Wet Weather Stormwater Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Gallo, an MSU landscape architecture assistant professor, accepted the award on the university's behalf.

Marked by educational signage, features at the museum include a 700 square-foot rain garden, 200 square-foot sand filter and more than 1,000 square-feet of new plantings. Students also used recycled and repurposed materials to create a 1,000-gallon rainwater cistern, 600 square-foot public-use green roof pavilion and circular stair to access it, as well as an American Disabilities Act-compliant entrance.

"This award is a major recognition for Starkville, Oktibbeha County and especially MSU," Gallo said, adding that the award "will help put the project on the map for policy makers, designers, engineers and students in order to better understand what is possible with green infrastructure solutions in the Southeast."

Gallo also expressed appreciation for the contributions of MSU students, faculty and community volunteers in making the project possible.

The museum project also received the American Society of Landscape Architecture's Award of Excellence in Student Collaboration in 2013. The Award of Excellence is the highest honor bestowed by the national professional association for landscape architects.

Green infrastructure reduces the volume of stormwater discharges by managing rainwater close to where it falls and removes many of the pollutants present in runoff, making it an effective strategy for addressing wet weather pollution and improving water quality, according to EPA officials.

The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum is located at 206 Fellowship Street in Starkville. Museum hours are 1-4 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, as well as by appointment. While admission is free, donations are encouraged. Learn more at http://oktibbehaheritagemuseum.com/wordpress/.

Visit lalc.msstate.edu to discover more about landscape architecture at MSU; the College of Architecture, Art and Design at caad.msstate.edu.

MSU, the state's flagship research institution, is online at msstate.edu, meridian.msstate.edu, facebook.com/msstate, instagram.com/msstate and twitter.com/msstate, using hashtag #WeRingTrue.

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