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Youth - A Key Audience for Water Resource Education

Posted: September 7, 2010

A new program designed to promote water stewardship in youth is introduced in one of the showcase watersheds.
4-H participant sampling a stream

4-H participant sampling a stream

When it comes to water resource education, great efforts are made every day reaching out to homeowners, landowners, municipalities, developers, and more. However, there is another important audience that is sometimes overlooked, and that is youth. Laying the foundation for understanding water issues is vital to the future of our limited water resources, whether through school curriculum, 4-H clubs, scouting, summer camps, or individual experiences. When very young children are aware of their personal water use and start simple conservation habits, such as shutting water off while brushing teeth, it can lead to lifelong water saving behaviors. As youth get older, learning about the properties of water, the water cycle, and how water moves in a watershed can help them to realize the impacts that their daily behaviors have on local water resources.

In addition to planting the seeds for the great future stewards of our water resources, youth water education also engages children in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) topics. The National 4-H Program has stated that “The United States is falling dangerously behind other nations in developing its future workforce of scientists, engineers, and technology experts.  America now faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists.” Engaging youth in SET education is a fundamental way to foster their enthusiasm for science and to nurture future decisions about science education and careers.

With all of these great benefits, why not consider taking on water education with youth in your community? The Pennsylvania 4-H program has a superb series of hands-on water activity guides available to 4-H club members, school classrooms, special interest groups, and more. Penn State Cooperative Extension and PA 4-H are also currently piloting the brand new Commonwealth Stream Teams program in the Conewago Creek Watershed (Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties). To obtain more information about 4-H water projects available in your area, contact your county Cooperative Extension Office . For more information about the Commonwealth Stream Teams program in the Conewago Creek Watershed, contact Jennifer Fetter at 717-921-8803 or jrf21@psu.edu.