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The Enviroscape model provides a hands-on approach to teaching youth about preventing watershed pollution

Posted: February 24, 2012

This model of a typical watershed shows how any impacts on the land – such as pesticides, oil, wastewater, and erosion – can potentially end up in local waterways after a rain event.
Susan Boser, Extension Water Quality Educator in Beaver County, discusses water pollution prevention with a local Cub Scout group using the Enviroscape model.

Susan Boser, Extension Water Quality Educator in Beaver County, discusses water pollution prevention with a local Cub Scout group using the Enviroscape model.

The Enviroscape model is a 3-D watershed model of “Anytown, USA” complete with farmland, a suburban area, roads, and an industrial site, all poised around a series of water bodies.  Although the substances used in the Enviroscape demonstrations aren’t harmful (“pesticides” are green powdered drink mix), youth audiences can see the immediate impacts of these pollutants on a once-pristine lake in the model.  At a recent cub scout meeting demonstration, the kids had a chance to come up with creating laws or rules that the people of this imaginary town would have to follow to prevent their lake from becoming contaminated. Ideas ranged from telling people that they had to use less pesticides to the more extreme of shutting down a factory until it stopped putting waste into the stream.  The demonstration gave the kids a chance to think about changes that could be made to improve the model watershed, and hopefully spark thoughts for a real-life change to help reduce local watershed impacts.  For more water quality information, visit the Extension Water Resources website at extension.psu.edu/water.