Student Spotlight: Why Rain Gardens are the Best by Keegan Thoranin

By Kate Gardiner, RORG Communications Manager

Keegan Thoranin was our first student to be featured in a spotlight series back in April 2020! We met Keegan while presenting to Allen Hall students about the Red Oak Rain Garden at the start of the 2019 – 2020 school year. For his spotlight, he chose to create illustrations showing why rain gardens are the best.

What drew you to the garden? I moved into Allen Hall early, so having a tour of the rain garden (even if it was still in the works!) on the schedule was what really got me interested. I think putting a face to the project made the rain garden feel even more personal, seeing the team talk about the project made me realize how much work goes into it! I think outreach was a big part of it, having this big project say “hey, UIUC student, you can help out too in your own way!” was really cool! Plus, there’s always that added excitement of being in the early stages of a project and watching it grow.

Keegan’s Introduction: Howdy! I’m Keegan (he/him) and I’m a freshman in Animal Sciences! I love birding, art, and talking to anyone who’ll listen about how cool our natural world is! After living in @unit_one_allen_hall and spending my days on campus passing by the RORG, I couldn’t help but be artistically inspired by what lies ahead for it! I’ll be sharing some illustrations I’ve made inspired by the Red Oak Rain Garden this week and I can’t wait for you all to see them! Thanks for having me! 😊

Day 0: Keegan here! Thanks for having me! A Day 0 post to let you all know what’s in store! For every day this week from Monday to Sunday, I’ll be posting some of my favorite reasons why I think rain gardens are the coolest, paired with some illustrations by yours truly! Hope everyone’s staying safe and hope my time with you all brings a bit of nature to your feed!

Day 1: Why are rain gardens the coolest? They help say goodbye to flooding!

From the way they’re dug to the deep-rooted plants that live in them, rain gardens thrive when it pours! TBH, I think RORG’s got it pretty good with its resident Northern Red Oak, which can absorb nearly 40,000 gallons of water annually!

Day 2: Back at it again with another reason to love rain gardens: they pummel pollution away!

Flooding is gross, but you know what’s also gross? Pollutants. Rain gardens help absorb runoff, which can be full of the stuff! Midterms are already stressful enough, what college kid wants to walk through gross water?

Day 3: Rain gardens can be the life of the party!

In fact, they even invite new friends! The addition of native plants will invite a variety of visitors, making walks back to Allen a bit more exciting thanks to the RORG! From the birds to the bees and everything in between, who needs Netflix when you can go #birding?

Day 4: Here’s something to look forward to: rain gardens relieve stress!

Which, honestly, we need less of! Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce our cortisol levels, which gives you the perfect excuse to go relax in your favorite rain garden. For everyone staying at home, though, even a quick chat with your favorite potted plant will do!

Day 5: Hosting a Zoom party? Rain gardens make a great icebreaker!

Not everyone knows what rain gardens are and why they’re so cool, but that’s okay! Talking to others about how cool rain gardens are can make for an awesome conversation! Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire someone to start their own rain garden…

Day 6: What’s so fun about rain gardens? They let your creativity soar!

Rain gardens come in all shapes and sizes, from urban to suburban. Depending on where you live, you can have a variety of plants to choose from, making your rain garden as unique as you are!

Day 7: One last (but not least) reason why I think rain gardens are the best? They bring nature closer to us!

In a world that’s always busy, it’s hard to take the time to admire the world around us. Admiring and/or working on a rain garden can help us reconnect with nature and appreciate it even more. I mean, hey! It worked for me, at least!

Last post of my social media takeover, it was such a blast to share my artwork with everyone! I hope you all have a lovely week no matter where you are, and that you’re all staying safe!

Thanks again to Keegan for coming up with reasons why rain gardens are the best and for creating these wonderful illustrations! If anyone would like to create a student spotlight of their own, you can contact me at kgardin2@illinois.edu.

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