Monday, August 3, 2015

Anniversary Story: "Learning About AquiFIERS" by Brian Reetz

Learning About AquiFIERS
by Brian Reetz, former Groundwater Foundation Program Coordinator

It’s awesome to see The Groundwater Foundation celebrating such a historic anniversary. It shows the lasting impact that such an amazing organization can have on the local, national, and world scene. I was very fortunate to work for the Foundation for four years. I came into the Foundation with very little knowledge of groundwater and kept soaking it in (recharging, you might say), during the time I was there. I also knew there were a lot of experts in the area to lean on. 

A lot of my time with the Foundation was spent on the road with the Growing Groundwater in Nebraska program. I loved going into different communities across the state and talking about groundwater and how to keep it plentiful for future generations. I made a lot of lifelong friends because of this, who I’m still in contact with even though I’m now at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Glenn Korff School of Music.

In each of those communities there was usually an aspect where I worked with kids, the next generation so to speak. They were always so enthusiastic about learning more about water. We also worked with kids as part of the Outdoor Adventures in H2O Bright Lights camp in Lincoln, and it was here that I got to know Groundwater Foundation staff even more. Jennifer Wemhoff and Jamie Kelley were very kind to me when I started and we continue to have great relationships. They also knew how to keep me humble. During one day of the Outdoor Adventures camp, we did an activity where we made aquifers with ice cream – Edible Aquifers. Jamie and Jennifer thought it would be good for me to lead the activity. I thought, “Sure I’ll give it a whirl.”

Brian Reetz enjoys his Edible AquiFIER with students at 
the Outdoor Adventures in H2O Camp.
“Today, we are going to talk about AquiFIERS,” I said to the kids. My memory is that Jamie and Jennifer both looked at me in stunned silence, then smiled and laughed, and Jennifer said, “Don’t you mean aquiFERS?” “Oh yes, AquiFERS,” I said. AquiFIERS would be a running joke throughout the rest of my time at the Foundation and yet to today. As I said, they kept me humble. I think I rebounded quite quickly, but of course the kids were more consumed in making an ice cream treat that they could soon eat. As for me, it taught me to keep learning and reading about all I could about one of the world’s most important resources. 

During my time with the Foundation, I was proud to help develop the Water1der groundwater awareness app, currently out on the market in the Apple App Store. I think it’s a fun way to engage people in this tech savvy world and it’s been fun to see it continue to grow as well. 



I learned a lot about teamwork while working at the Foundation. Everyone pitched in all different areas to help push the mission forward and I’m so proud to always be a part of that, and can’t wait to see where the next years lead for such a fine organization. 


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11 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!


30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association

Monday, July 27, 2015

Anniversary Story: "No Pressure, Right?" by Anthony Lowndes

No Pressure, Right?
by Anthony Lowdnes, The Groundwater Foundation

I stepped into the role of Program Manager at The Groundwater Foundation in mid-January of 2015, knowing I would face some challenges and pressures. Part of my responsibilities was coordinating a project involving Science Olympiad (SO) and a trial event created by the Foundation, Hydrogeology: Water for the World. The event challenges students, through investigation and computer modeling, to identify potential groundwater management solutions.

I had never been part of SO before, and coordinating the logistics on top of being the event supervisor for a trial event was a full emersion into the world of competitive science. Hydrogeology was set to be a full event in 2016 thanks to the hard work of past staff member Amy Kessner and Groundwater Foundation President Jane Griffin over the last two years; all I had to do was not screw it up. No pressure, right?

Thankfully I was able to practice running the event on a smaller scale at two Regional Tournaments. Both tournaments were small but fiercely competed. On to State Tournaments. With a total of 11 teams competing in Nebraska and many others in Washington, Maryland, California, Utah, Illinois, and Indiana the pressure was on to coordinate all the event supervisors and ensure success to guarantee the National Tournament event would be well attended.

The morning of the National SO Tournament, held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I still did not have an exact number of competitors.  I knew this would be a bigger, more competitive crowd and I had prepared the event’s test to be much more difficult than any previous. There were a total of 40 teams participating, with almost every state represented. Despite some mild hiccups while getting the event started, I was pleased with the outcome. It was amazing to see so many students engaged in a rigorous, science-based competition! The level of sportsmanship was incredible and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year. There were no changes to the rules and the committee agreed to move the event to full status for the 2016 tournament season!

Find out more about Hydrogeology at http://www.groundwater.org/kids/getinvolved/so/hydro.html


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12 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!

30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association

Monday, July 20, 2015

Anniversary Story: "Solving Problems as a Unit" by Arnold Mancl

Solving Problems as a Unit
By Arnold Mancl, Milladore Area Groundwater Guardians, Milladore, Wisconsin


The Milladore, Wisconsin Area Groundwater Guardian Program had its first meeting on March 3, 2003. The program consists of the Village of Milladore, Town of Milladore, and Town of Eau Pleine. The Village of Milladore is located in central Wisconsin, (Wood County), population of 246. The cities of Wausau to the north, Marshfield to the west, Stevens Point to the east, and Wisconsin Rapids to the south gives us a well-rounded group of surrounding larger cities.

During the early 1990s, the Village experienced the horror of benzene in some residents’ wells. The contamination was mostly in the wells of the residents who lived south of the railroad tracks that split the Village. The contamination came from two gas stations that no longer existed and the railroad. As a result, the Village pursued a source of good water for residents and was required to construct a municipal water system. A grant was provided for construction of the water system, and it became operational in December of 1995.

In December of 2002, my son Brian, who was a senior at Stevens Point Pacelli High School, attended an ecology class for high school students at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He picked up information on the Groundwater Guardian Program, and shared it with me. I thought it would be a good program for our Village to look into, so I brought it up to the Village Board at the next meeting. The response was favorable, so I took charge to run it.

Because the wells for the Village are out of the Village’s jurisdiction (located in the Town of Milladore and bordered by The Town of Eau Pleine), I thought it would be good to involve them. Each Town Chairman was contacted and they were all in favor of it. We now had the ability to work closer together on any issues that came up and solve them as a unit.

Since then we have given presentations to local grade schools and 4-H groups on the importance of groundwater and protecting it. We’ve also helped some residents with well abandonment by securing 70% funding assistance from County Land Conservation. We have also been involved with the Clean Sweep and pharmaceutical collection programs with the Marshfield Area Groundwater Guardians.

We congratulate you for 30 years, and we plan to continue our participation in this great program.

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13 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!

30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association