Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Environmental Education: What Difference Has It Made?

How many of you have provided environmental education to youth?  Whether it was at a fair, a water festival, a school, after school program, or community event, many of us have spent many hours and resources educating youth about water issues or other environmental topic.  Have you ever wondered where these children are now?  Grown up for sure, but how did the messages we shared with them make a difference in their lives?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to know what they are up to now? 

On occasion we hear from a former student and learn of what a groundwater festival meant to them.  One such story comes from Brandon , now pursuing his master’s degree in sustainable rural development.  Brandon wrote “It may be hard to believe that something like the Groundwater Festival could have such an impact on someone's life but it is true. The concepts I learned at an early age stayed with me and translated into a drive to deepen my knowledge in that area. That is exactly why programs like this are so important because they plant the seeds. Seeds that one day may grow into something great.” 

What have you heard back from the students you have educated?  Or better yet, if you are a student who attended one of these events, what impact has it had on your life?  Did it influence your career path?  Have you changed your habits to be more water friendly? 

We’d love to hear from you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's time again for camp!

By Brian Reetz, Program Coordinator

For those of you who follow The Groundwater Foundation on Twitter and Facebook, you probably know that last week we (lead by Jamie Oltman) hosted our Outdoor Adventures in H2O camp here in Lincoln.

The camp is for youth who just finished fifth through seventh grade and they brought a ton of energy to the camp each day! And they needed to! We are on the go all of the time and for us educators, we bring our energy too!

We try to make it a great mix of educating while allowing them time to be kids in nature -- from searching for frogs to playing in and around the water.

On Monday, we hiked to Antelope Park in Lincoln and along the way we did a city safari scavenger hunt. Once at the park we did a recharge vs. runoff activity, a well in a cup activity, built Awesome Aquifers and they began working on their watershed models that they would work on the entire week. On Tuesday, we taught them about macroinvertebrates in preparation for our trip to Spring Creek Prairie later in the day where we did dip netting and other observation in a beautiful setting.

On Wednesday, we were on the road first thing as we took a bus to Branched Oak Organic Farm. After a tour and a chance to taste their yummy cheese, we hiked down to the pond. While we were at the pond we did a clean water challenge (testing for turbidity) and also did more dip netting for macroinvertebrates.  On Thursday, we spent the whole day at Holmes Lake. After surviving a morning rain storm, we worked with the groundwater flow model and did the water cycle journey. Then we worked on a lake cleanup.

Friday was the culmination of the entire week and we all met at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. The students took everything that they had learned during the week and shared it with visitors to the zoo. It was great to see how much they had learned and then were willing to share with an even younger group of kids. After a hike back to the school that hosted us, the kids shared the watershed models they had worked on all week with their parents.  

But click the link and watch the video (thanks to Jennifer) …it really captures what the week was like!

Outdoor Adventures in H2O Camp

Friday, June 3, 2011

A New Perspective

By Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Since starting my tenure with The Groundwater Foundation, I’ve (obviously) been aware of and concerned about the quality of our drinking water.  Growing up in rural Nebraska, I drank well water and never gave it a second thought.  After I started at the Foundation in 2000, water and the many threats to its quality and quantity were much more prominent in my thoughts and helped shape my actions.

My husband and I had our first child, a daughter, in March (actually, she was born during National Groundwater Week!).  Since her birth, I can’t help but think about Groundwater Foundation founder and President Emeritus Susan Seacrest and the concern over her infant son’s health that eventually lead to the creation of the Foundation.  (Read more about the Foundation’s history at  Even though I’ve worked to be an advocate of clean groundwater for the past 11 years through the Foundation’s programs and projects, I now feel a more intense responsibility to help protect the resource; not only because it’s the right thing to do, but  because the stakes are higher now because it will impact my daughter’s future.  My new perspective as a parent has increased my respect for the communities, individuals, and organizations out there working to educate people and protect our precious water resources.  My daughter thanks you! 

What or who has inspired you to be a steward of water?