HOW AND WHEN DID WATER SCHOOL BEGIN?
The watershed group places very high value on the education of local youth. The Town of Stratford provided water conservation education to Grade 5 students at Stratford Elementary for 4 years; the program was brought into the classrooms over a few days and the children were taught the basics of water use and how to conserve.
Fast forward to 2011; an initiative was developed to expand the current program to include watershed education. As a fun side note, Kelley Farrar (watershed coordinator) remembers how the entire process began…
“I remember when Billy (Ramsay) came into my office, sat down, looked at the map on my wall and said “you know, I don’t really know what a watershed is. And if the Stratford water technician doesn’t know what a watershed is, I bet a lot of other people don’t either”. This was the start of a conversation about how to teach people about watersheds. Thus, water school as it is now was created.”
WHAT IS WATER SCHOOL, ANYWAY?
“Waters Cool”, a day-long field trip to the Stratford Town Hall, annually introduces hundreds of Grade 5 students from a variety of local schools to water conservation and various aspects of watersheds in an interactive and activity-based environment. Each class attended both presentations, allowing them to learn where their water comes from and how to conserve this precious resource. Some of the topics covered in these classes include (but definitely not limited to!):
- water in the world
- water use by the community
- water conservation in and around the home
- respecting water and its place in the world
- how to fix leaks in your home
- the water cycle
and much, MUCH MORE!
Students are taught using a variety of interactive models and tools, and are hands-on throughout the day as they learn about how the environment ‘works’ around them.
WHO ARE THE INSTRUCTORS FOR WATER SCHOOL?
Billy Ramsay, Stratford Senior Infrastructure Technician, has been with the Town of Stratford for over 15 years, and is the instructor for the water conservation component of water school
Kelley Farrar, Watershed Coordinator with SAWIG, teaches the watershed portion of this successful program.
Liz Farrar, Kelley’s mom, assists Kelley throughout the week with the watershed part of water school.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE FEEDBACK FROM THIS PROGRAM?
The success of the program was immediately apparent, even back in 2012. Teachers praised the high-energy lessons; one stated “I don’t know how I am going to teach science in the classroom from now on”. Students were thrilled at the opportunity to participate in demonstrations and activities, and several kids were heard to say it was “the best day EVER”. We have had feedback via emails and phone messages, as well as face-to-face with parents who say that their kids have turned into the ‘water police’ at home!
We are proud to support this worthwhile endeavor, as these youth returned home with the knowledge that their actions have a lasting impact on their local water and watersheds.
Please click here to see the professional video, created several years ago, to showcase our wonderful program.
If a picture just doesn’t cut it, we are placing a short video demonstrating the large watershed model! Hundreds of hours went into this model, and we are proud to show it off, running water and all! This video shows the FIRST time the water was turned on in the big model…it went swimmingly!
Want to see a little tidbit of Kelley’s watershed education program? Watch as Kelley explains the groundwater model and gets two students to ‘pollute’ the groundwater in different ways! *Please keep in mind this is an old video from several years ago!
Want even more videos? Watch a small segment of Billy Ramsay’s Water Conservation Program, where he talks about water usage in different countries. This is but a glimpse of what he covers during his class!
Billy and Kelley would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported their development of this project since 2011, and look forward to seeing you again next spring.