Pam Wright wants to educate today’s youth about how precious water is, and will be, in their lives.
Wright, the public outreach and education coordinator for the West Greeley Conservation District, brought her rolling river education trailer to Skyview Elementary School in Windsor on Thursday and taught students about water cycles, erosion, how humans impact the water table and how pesticides and chemicals can enter a river or lake through ground water. Toy people, sand, rocks, trucks, cars, animals, farm equipment, trees and brush were sprinkled throughout the trailer that represented the dynamics of a watershed. Once the flowing water caused erosion, the students had to move around the models and fix the river’s surroundings.
“I really stress that this water situation is not going to change,” Wright said. “We’re going to be drinking the same water in the future, so it’s important for them to take care of it not only for themselves but for future generations. We stress the importance of healthy soil. Especially since we’re such an ag community, we do a lot of work out in the community, too.”
Second-grader Gavin Leagjeld, 7, a member of the after-school Roots & Shoots club that is working on a project to rehabilitate Skyview’s wetlands east of the school and make it into an outdoor classroom, was all about sticking his hands into the flowing water and makeshift sand by the river. Gavin learned about the dangers of polluting the water.
“If farmers keep using fertilizer or chemicals and if it goes into the river as ground water, it could pollute the river or ocean,” Gavin said.
Fifth-grader Blaine Tonnies, 10, said he liked what he learned.
“Since we’re younger, we should probably learn it now so later we don’t (pollute),” Blaine said. “I really like nature, plants and animals.”
Skyview teacher Kendra Jacoby, who is an adviser for Roost & Shoots along with fellow teacher Roxanne Visconti, said it’s exciting to see the first- through fifth-graders learn about what will impact them in their future.
“It’s huge, especially because we are in Colorado and our arid climate, they need to know that the water that we have is the water that we have. There is never going to be any more,” said Jacoby, a SOAR and Gifted and Talented Education teacher.
Visconti said it’s vital for students to learn what’s happening around them.
“They are very engaged. That’s what we want this to be, is them giving of themselves and learning about what surrounds them and not just going back and forth to school every day,” said Visconti, a first-grade teacher.
Second-grader Emma Johnson, 8, said she learned how a river can be polluted.
“If you’re too close to the river, you can pollute in it or you can spill oil into it and it can make it really bad for the animals who drink it,” Johnson said. “Because if they drink it they’ll die or get sick.”
Wright said she takes her riparian water trailer, the conservation district has two of them, and visits 20 to 30 schools annually throughout Weld County. She said she has an entire curriculum for different grade levels.
“Right after the flooding in the schools in Greeley and Evans, we were busy out in those schools,” Wright said. “There was not one kid I dealt with that wasn’t affected by those floods in one way or another. Their main question was: ‘Is this going to happen again?’”
Wright said it’s never too early for the kids to learn.
“For those little kids to realize that their water source is never going to change, that they’re drinking the same water the dinosaurs did, that always sticks with them,” Wright said. “It’s never too early to start teaching them the importance of where their water comes from. It needs to be started early.”