Best Environmental Stewardship & Nate Siegel Award 2016
Carol Kuechler, winner of the Nate Siegel Award and the Best Environmental Stewardship Award, began her journey in the love of all things related to water by enrolling in the Freshwater Society’s 2013 inaugural class to become a Master Water Steward. This speaks to the entire environment she has created at her home and has made her “more intentional” regarding all aspects of her garden.
Carol comes from a small town in Wisconsin, and has been a gardener since her childhood, through her college days to the present. She moved to her current location in December 1990. Her property consisted of grass in the front and all concrete in the back. Her garden plan was not methodical but entailed many periods of planning and execution over the years.
In 2013, following her Master Water Steward education, Carol removed all the concrete from her back yard to build a new garage and transform her back yard. Now her beautiful yard contains three raingardens, one in front and two in back, which collect virtually all the stormwater run-off from her house and garage. Underground PVC pipes were routed from the downspouts to the raingardens. She also had permeable pavers installed in her driveway to further reign in the flow of runoff down the alley.
Since Carol lives on a hill, she recently added more boulders for stabilization and easier access to her front garden. The results are beautiful and give her safer access to her steep hill. Her garden is a welcoming one, full of native plants, which a variety of pollinators and other wildlife enjoy every day. Neighbor children have used the gardens as well, to collect milkweed for their caterpillar project. She is also involved in the Nokomis Monarch Festival and donates her time to the Nokomis Naturescape gardens where the festival is held.
Because of her experiences with water sustainability, she has become an advocate for the Watershed District in her Nokomis neighborhood. She became involved with Metro Blooms’ Blooming Alleys program in 2014 to engage her neighbors in a project to install permeable pavement, raingardens, and native plantings along the alley to slow and infiltrate stormwater runoff and create habitat. Carol was the very first Alley Captain and helped develop the Blooming Alleys engagement and outreach strategy which has proven effective in engaging more than 20 blocks in the program so far. Carol has held many parties and tours of their alley and has helped recruit captains for other blocks on both sides of Lake Nokomis in addition to getting her own neighbors involved.