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Outdoor educator and Americorps volunteer uses Project WET to teach thousands about water

Wed, 2017-09-20 15:12

Outdoor Educator Ian Taylor "Learning outdoors has always been a part of my life," explains Ian Taylor. Taylor, currently the education and field trips coordinator for a land trust in California’s Tulare County via the Americorps national service program, has spent the last five years teaching people about the environment all over the United States.

"I was very active in scouting as a child and young adult, culminating in my becoming an Eagle Scout, and I went to Hocking College to earn degrees in both Eco-Tourism/Adventure Travel and Wildlife Resource Management," Ian says. However, even with all of this emphasis on environmental education, Ian says he had never heard of Project WET until he opened his first Project WET Guide in the fall of 2012.

"I had been charged with creating a nature program for kids to use as a learning tool at Camp Wyandot in southeast Ohio, he recalls. "I soon discovered in learning about Project WET activities that I had actually used many of them during camps I attended in my youth and during my time in school—I just hadn’t realized they were Project WET!"

Ian has worked with thousands of students of all ages, like these in Ohio, in his career as an outdoor educator Since finishing his program in 2012, Ian has attended four Project WET trainings in three different states—Ohio, Indiana and California. The most recent training was at the Tulare County Office of Education (in California), and it was accompanied by a lecture on climate change and a panel of scientists to answer questions.

Ian says that these trainings have helped him in his career as an outdoor educator, during which he estimates he has reached several thousand people--adults, college students, grades K-12 and the community at large.

"I was the nature and outdoor living skills coordinator at Camp Wyandot in Rockbridge, Ohio," Ian relates. "I then served as a professional outdoor instructor at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana, which is the adjunct Outdoor Education Facility for Indiana University. I later became the environmental education specialist and oversaw the training staff. Many of the activities we trained our staff to use were from Project WET. Currently, I am wrapping up a term of service in AmeriCorps where I am serving Tulare County as the Education and Field Trips Coordinator for a land trust here in the valley."

Ian working with camp counselors in Ohio on a fishing program Ian says that his favorite activity is Macroinvertebrate Mayhem, in which kids learn about water quality through the competition of macroinvertebrates.

"It’s not just a WONDERFUL way to teach about macros; it’s engaging, active and hilarious to watch," he says. "There are no 'winners' or 'losers'. Everyone learns and it provides an opportunity for adults to get involved. I pair this with a macroinvertebrate hunt and I have an entire lesson that covers several NGSS standards."

According to Ian, the reason teaching people about water is important is because water is life.

"It gives life, and it is strong enough to take it away," he notes. "Water is everywhere and essential to understanding the world and its ecosystems. Water brings people together or divides by causing wars, scarcity or physical barriers. When I was in Ohio, there was plenty of water, but much of it has been tainted with chemicals from acid mining. When I came to California, I settled in a place that had been in a six-year drought and has limited resources for storing water when it does rain. Thousands of miles apart and on opposite ends of a social and political spectrum but many problems revolve around the same issue of water scarcity."

How I Use Project WET: Helping People Understand Water Locally and Globally

Mon, 2017-09-18 14:29

Editor’s Note: Currently the education and field trips coordinator for a land trust in California’s Tulare County via the Americorps national service program, Ian Taylor has spent the last five years teaching people about the environment, all over the United States. Passionate about water in particular, Ian says that Project WET activities help give participants perspective and insight into global water issues. Thanks to Project WET California Coordinator Brian Brown for originally sharing Ian's story with us.

Outdoor Educator Ian Taylor By Ian Taylor, Outdoor Educator

Learning outdoors has always been a part of my life. I was very active in scouting as a child and young adult, culminating in my becoming an Eagle Scout, and I went to Hocking College to earn degrees in both Eco-Tourism/Adventure Travel and Wildlife Resource Management. However, even with all of this emphasis on environmental education, I had never heard of Project WET until I opened my first Project WET Guide in the fall of 2012. I had been charged with creating a nature program for kids to use as a learning tool at Camp Wyandot in southeast Ohio. I soon discovered in learning about Project WET activities that I had actually used many of them during camps I attended in my youth and during my time in school—I just hadn’t realized they were Project WET!

Since finishing my program in 2012, I have attended four Project WET trainings in three different states—Ohio, Indiana and California. The most recent training was at the Tulare County Office of Education (in California), and it was accompanied by a lecture on climate change and a panel of scientists to answer questions.

Environmental educator Ian Taylor training Ohio camp counselors to help kids engage with the natural world These trainings have helped me in my career as an outdoor educator. I was the nature and outdoor living skills coordinator at Camp Wyandot in Rockbridge, Ohio. I then served as a professional outdoor instructor at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana, which is the adjunct Outdoor Education Facility for Indiana University. I later became the environmental education specialist and oversaw the training staff. Many of the activities we trained our staff to use were from Project WET. Currently, I am wrapping up a term of service in AmeriCorps where I am serving Tulare County as the Education and Field Trips Coordinator for a land trust here in the valley. I would estimate that in my career so far, I have worked with several thousand people. Probably the largest group are the fifth graders I worked with during my time in Indiana. I have also worked with adults, college students, grades K-12 and the community at large.

My favorite Project WET activity is Macroinvertebrate Mayhem. It’s not just a WONDERFUL way to teach about macros; it’s engaging, active and hilarious to watch. There are no “winners” or “losers”. Everyone learns and it provides an opportunity for adults to get involved. I pair this with a macroinvertebrate hunt and I have an entire lesson that covers several NGSS standards. (As an aside, Bradford Woods was featured on a PBS program called “Indiana Weekend” in 2016. The video embedded below features footage of me leading the macro search in Fern Valley. The whole thing is great, but about 9 minutes is when they start our footage.)

Ian has worked with thousands of students of all ages, like these in Ohio, in his career as an outdoor educator In general, teaching people about water is important to me because water is life. It gives life, and it is strong enough to take it away. Water is everywhere and essential to understanding the world and its ecosystems. Water brings people together or divides by causing wars, scarcity or physical barriers. When I was in Ohio, there was plenty of water, but much of it has been tainted with chemicals from acid mining. When I came to California, I settled in a place that had been in a six-year drought and has limited resources for storing water when it does rain. Thousands of miles apart and on opposite ends of a social and political spectrum but many problems revolve around the same issue of water scarcity.

How I Use Project WET: Changing Perspectives About Water

Thu, 2017-09-14 13:00

Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta, a Project WET facilitator in Colombia Editor’s note: This interview was arranged by Allison Howe and translated from the original Spanish by Kyla Smith.

It has been almost exactly four years since Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta was trained as a Project WET facilitator in her home country of Colombia. Now part of one of Project WET’s partner organizations in Colombia, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (Corporación Autonoma Regional de Cundinamarca, or CAR, a Colombian government agency), Angie says that Project WET has helped her educate all kinds of people about the importance of water.

“I started as a volunteer in the cities of the province of Gualivá and participated in a training program with CAR and CORPOBOYACA, where we trained the educators in the department so they could replicate Project WET in their schools and water utilities,” Angie said. “Later, I worked with CAR to strengthen the program being introduced in schools, which had great results from a project developed in 2015. During 2016 and 2017 we have been creating new spaces to implement the activities and initiating new educational programs, in companies, universities, business organizations, and more schools and water utilities. We have also been able to apply the methodology to many of the educational strategies developed by CAR. It is a valuable and very versatile tool that I have been able to take advantage of!”

Allison (far left) met Angie in Colombia last fall Allison met Angie at last year's  International Meeting of WET Methodology and Strengthening for the Management of Water Resources in Colombia last fall. She suggested that we talk to Angie about her experiences using Project WET:

Project WET Foundation (PWF): How do you use Project WET in your work? What activities are particularly useful to you and why?

Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta (AO): I have primarily used the activities in the Water and Education Guide from Colombia. I’ve used those 32 activities many, many times—they are excellent, practical and fun. I have learned how to adapt them to a lot of different settings, which has given the best results. Some favorites that I like the most are “The Incredible Journey”, “Seeing Watersheds”, “8-4-1, One for All”, and “Puzzle” (Rompecabezas). They are my most recommended activities, and I almost always include them in my training workshops. I also like using the Clean and Conserve activities from the Ecolab project; my favorites are “Soap Science” and “Healthy Natural Environments”. At CAR, we’ve also developed some new activities to teach about locally relevant water topics. Of these, my favorites are “Water Loss” and “Interact with the Wetland”!

Angie has trained people from many different backgrounds to use Project WET PWF: Why is water education important to you personally?

AO: Because I am convinced that the problem of water is a social problem, more than a technical or economic one. Only by changing people’s perspective of water can we ensure that it reaches more and more people, and also the natural elements we share it with.

PWF: What are your future plans for water education?

Allison joined Angie and several other facilitators to conduct a two-day training workshop at Lake Neusa in Colombia AO: If I have the opportunity to continue with CAR, I can visualize larger educational programs and partnerships with other corporations so that this methodology can reach other parts of the country. I have also been thinking about the possibility of developing activities not published in a physical guide, but rather with short videos of a maximum 2 minutes in length that better demonstrate each part of the activities and their preparation, at least for the activities created by CAR.

In the not-too-distant future, I hope to have concrete figures about the effect of the methodology in our local communities, so that we can show proof of its positive effects and effectiveness.

Thank you very much for taking our experience into account, which is not only mine but also that of an entity that values the methodology, some committed facilitators and an enchanting geographical area.

 

Place-Based Learning in Project WET’s “Hometown” Showcased in New Video

Mon, 2017-08-28 14:40

Our ongoing program with the City of Bozeman has helped teach kids about Bozeman’s watershed, water conservation and stormwater. The place-based learning program has shown impressive results in its pilot phase and will be continuing this fall with fifth graders in Bozeman.

The City of Bozeman’s Water Conservation Division recently produced a video entitled “Water in Bozeman: The Big Picture”. The video features basic information about Bozeman’s water situation, including the area’s location at the headwaters of one of the country’s most important rivers, its relatively arid climate and the work the City is doing to promote water conservation. The joint Project WET-City of Bozeman program plays a prominent role in those efforts. You can view the video on the City of Bozeman’s YouTube channel, or it’s embedded below:

National Science Teachers Association Recommends Project WET Early Childhood Education Guide

Wed, 2017-08-23 13:49

FOR RELEASE: August 23, 2017

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has included Getting Little Feet Wet, Project WET’s Early Childhood Education Guide, on its NSTA Recommends® list of the best available supplements for science teaching. NSTA expert reviewer and first and second grade teacher Marcy Doyle praised Getting Little Feet Wet as an “idea-packed, teacher-tested resource for early childhood educators” in recommending the guide to its 60,000 members.

“Educators across the United States look to NSTA for their thoughtful, objective reviews of science-teaching materials,” said Project WET Foundation President and CEO Dennis Nelson. “Having our early childhood education guide included in the NSTA Recommends® online review service confirms that water resources education—even for young children—can be scientifically rigorous and standards-based while also being enjoyable and engaging for students.”

In her review, Ms. Doyle noted that Getting Little Feet Wet’s “hands-on, inquiry lessons” are aligned to current standards, including Head Start Domain Elements, NAEYC, NAAEE, NGSS, and CCSS. She also noted that the format of the lessons is “geared to promote critical thinking and connections to prior knowledge, and foster further questioning.”

Developed in coordination with early childhood experts and educators, Getting Little Feet Wet contains 11 interactive engaging activities that allow young learners to explore many different aspects of water—from water’s unique properties and states, to water in music, art and history. Each activity has different, age-appropriate suggestions to suit both Pre-K and K-2 learners, appealing to young children’s curiosity about the world around them while also emphasizing the importance of water.

Getting Little Feet Wet is available for purchase in print or PDF download from the Project WET Store. Orders for the digital download can be placed at http://store.projectwet.org/educators-guides/getting-little-feet-wet-pdf-download.html. Print versions can be ordered at http://store.projectwet.org/getting-little-feet-wet-book.html.

 

How I Use Project WET: Studying Streams and Exploring Careers in Water

Tue, 2017-08-22 14:51

By Luke Goode

Luke Goode, a 17-year-old high school student and Project WET-certified educator from Kentucky Editor’s note: Luke Goode is only 17, but he already knows what matters to him. After a lifetime spent playing in the stream in his back yard in Kentucky, he knew he wanted to teach others about water. Still in high school, Luke has taken the unusual step of getting certified to teach Project WET. He’s hoping to use his skills to study and restore streams like the ones he grew up playing in, and to share his love of water with others.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved to be near a stream or actually in it! My brother and I spent our early years exploring the creek that snaked its way through our back yard in Kentucky. We were homeschooled during our elementary years, and much of the science we studied was hands-on. My brother and I would run back to the house after recess with some new and exotic creature from the backyard or creek. We were encouraged to identify the creature and its habitat.

Around fourth or fifth grade, a gentleman at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife gave us beautifully illustrated posters of what kinds of critters we could expect to find in streams of various sizes in Kentucky. As soon as we caught something new in the creek, we would check the poster to see what it might be. One time, my brother said he had seen an otter. We thought he was telling a tall tale, but when we checked the poster, we found out that otters can live in Kentucky streams. Later, I saw the otter, too, and that confirmed our find.

Luke grew up playing in the creeks and streams of Kentucky I will never forget the day a dark blue color we hadn’t seen before appeared in the water of our backyard creek. My mother told us to stay out of the creek for a while because she didn’t know what had caused it. I remember worrying about what it would do to the wildlife in the creek. We later found out from a local water biologist that the color had most likely come from a solution that people put in ponds to kill algae. I also watched with concern after a recent drought meant that we saw fewer and fewer animals. Now that the drought has lessened, we’ve seen more frogs and other animals. In fact, we just caught a leopard frog the other day!

My introduction to Project WET actually began with bat poop. When I was about seven, I attended a nature talk given by “Wild Bill”—the name that Bill Gordon of High Adventures Wilderness School in Slade, Kentucky, uses when educating kids about nature. His hands-on approach and fascinating stories about nature in our own backyard intrigued me. (And I never forgot his description of how to tell if you have bats in an attic: sparkles from their poop!)

We joined Wild Bill a few years later for a couple of canoe trips on Elkhorn Creek, followed by rescuing an injured heron at our neighbor’s house. I had talked to Bill a couple of times about my interest in stream restoration as a career, and Bill told me about Project WET. This spring, he made arrangements for me to get certified to teach Project WET and to join him so that I could become familiar with what to look for in a healthy stream and to help him perform the finishing touches with restoring and mapping his own stream. Bill also wanted me to help me become more familiar with stream work and learn how to teach it for a stream study he is doing for middle and high school students.

Luke hopes to educate people of all ages about water and streams When Wild Bill asked me to assist him mapping his stream and leading groups to help with that project, it fit perfectly with what I already loved. I am interested in stream study and restoration for my career because I love the outdoors: fishing, hunting, looking for things in streams like snakes, frogs, and turtles. I love water restoration because it makes the wildlife and people happy with the environment. Clean water equals healthy frogs, turtles, snakes, fish, deer, turkey and all other wildlife that lives in or drinks from that particular stream. I am delighted to be part of anything that improves or repairs habitat. Clean water also means farmers can use it more easily for watering crops or livestock. The main thing at the bottom of all of this from my perspective is that we all need to take care of what God has given and blessed us with.

As I look toward the future, I would love to teach stream study to younger people or even to those older than I am! I plan on getting practice teaching about streams and the way they work with Wild Bill at his stream, which is about an hour from where I live. Another attendee at Project WET certification partnered with our city’s division of water and asked if I’d join him and other volunteers performing water testing locally. I was excited to be asked and was able to participate this summer. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to share Project WET with future volunteers. Ultimately, as a career, I hope to help clean and restore streams while teaching others to do the same.

To learn more about Project WET in Kentucky, visit kaee.org.

Water Education TV Launches with "What Is a Watershed?"

Thu, 2017-08-17 16:07

Looking for classroom ideas as you head into back-to-school season? Project WET would like to help! We've launched a new video series called Water Education TV to help educators of all kinds bring common water topics into their classrooms in fun, hands-on ways. Hosting the video series is Kyla Smith, our sales and marketing associate. The first video is "What Is a Watershed?"

 

Water Education TV: What Is a Watershed? (Episode 1) from Project WET on Vimeo.

Be sure to follow Project WET on Vimeo or subscribe to the Project WET Channel on YouTube to be notified whenever a new episode is released.

More than 6,000 Nestlé Employees Make an Impact in 150 Community Service Projects Nationwide

Thu, 2017-08-10 15:30

#NestléCares volunteer day demonstrates company’s commitment to local communities and the environment

 

Arlington, VA (August 10, 2017) – Nestlé in the U.S. today marks #NestléCares, its national day of volunteering that brings together the company’s businesses in 47 states for more than 150 community events nationwide. Together, through partnerships with local organizations across the country, Nestlé employees will donate their time and talents in activities primarily focused on water stewardship, sustainability and caring for the environment in the communities where they live and work.

"Helping to care for the planet, protect natural resources and serve local communities is in all of our interests,” said Paul Grimwood, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “We're here doing our part because everyone's contribution counts in creating a sustainable future. This is essential to enhancing quality of life. Our national day of volunteering highlights our commitment, but our work to contribute to a healthier future continues in big and small ways every day.”

In support of #NestléCares, the company partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to lead community service projects in Nestlé communities. The SCA is America’s largest and most effective youth conservation service organization, and an ideal partner for this day of service. Today nearly 1,000 Nestlé employees and SCA members will participate in numerous local service projects that address environmental challenges including watershed conservation, water responsibility and pollinator habitat conservation, among others. Events in nine markets including Glendale, CA; Oakland, CA; Allentown, PA; Stamford, CT; New York, NY; Florham Park, NJ; St. Louis, MO; Washington D.C. and Solon, OH will give Nestlé employees the chance to “roll up their sleeves” and help to restore and improve local parks, creeks and trails in their communities. Additional SCA-organized events will take place at several Nestlé offices and allow employees to create “seed bombs” that help to attract birds, bees, butterflies and other local pollinators.

“Nestlé is doing its part as an environmental steward to secure the health of future generations,” said Jaime Matyas, president and CEO of SCA. “We look forward to working together, having fun and setting a positive example of sustainable practices for young adults.”

#NestléCares also includes a partnership with the Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) Foundation. Nestlé employees have been trained to use Project WET’s unique water stewardship teaching materials to educate kids and teens about the importance of water conservation and sustainability.

“We applaud the Nestlé employees who are taking the initiative to educate children in the communities where they live and work. It’s critical that young people understand the important ways they can protect, conserve and manage the water we have now and in the future,” said Dennis Nelson, Project WET Foundation president and CEO. “We are glad that Nestlé employees will be able to use Project WET materials to help develop the next generation of responsible water stewards.”

Nestlé employees will host Project WET Water Festivals for Boys & Girls Club chapters in Cleveland, OH; Burbank, CA; Stamford, CT and other locations across the country, building upon Nestlé’s long-standing partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. These festivals include interactive activities to encourage education around water conservation and sustainability in a fun and engaging way.

“We’ve long-valued our partnership with Nestlé to help inspire young people to learn the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We’re happy to be included in this national volunteer day to provide new experiences and opportunities for our young people throughout the country.”

#NestléCares is part of the company’s larger effort to create a more sustainable future for its employees and consumers. Visit http://www.nestleusa.com/csv/what-is-csv to learn more.

About Nestlé in the United States

Nestlé in the United States is committed to enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future--for individuals and families, for our thriving and resilient communities, and for the planet. Our diverse portfolio of foods and beverages provides nutritious options for every member of the family, and supports both the first 1000 days of life and healthy aging for people and pets.

Nestlé in the U.S. consists of eight main businesses: Nestlé USA, Nestlé Waters North America, Nestlé Nutrition, Nestlé Professional, Nespresso, Nestlé Health Science, Nestlé Skin Health and Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. Together, these companies operate in more than 120 locations in 47 states and employ over 51,000 people. In the U.S., Nestle product sales topped $27 billion in 2016, making it the largest Nestle market in the world.

Nestlé has been recognized as a member of the MIT Technology Review’s “Smartest Companies,” the top food company on Fortune’s “Change the World” List, and the top food company on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

About the Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s largest and most effective youth conservation service organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and 70% of its 85,000 alumni are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit www.thesca.org.

About the Project WET Foundation

Since 1984, the Project WET Foundation has been dedicated to reaching children, parents, teachers and community members with action-oriented water education to enable every child to understand and value water, ensuring a sustainable future. Project WET is active in all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries worldwide. Visit www.projectwet.org to learn more.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, 4,300 Clubs serve four million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.

Media Contacts:

Nestlé

Edie Burge

+1 818 551 3284

Edie.burge@us.nestle.com

Project WET Foundation

Nicole Rosenleaf Ritter

Nicole.ritter@projectwet.org

Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Sara Leutzinger

404-487-5624

sleutzinger@bgca.org

Hundreds of kids to learn about water at #NestléCares Project WET water festivals

Thu, 2017-08-10 10:45

As part of #NestléCares, a national day of volunteering for employees of Nestlé in the U.S., company employees are hosting Project WET Water Festivals for young people in Boys & Girls Club chapters across the country. Nestlé employees have been trained to use Project WET’s unique water stewardship teaching materials to educate kids and teens about the importance of water conservation and sustainability.

"Helping to care for the planet, protect natural resources and serve local communities is in all of our interests,” said Paul Grimwood, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. “We're here doing our part because everyone's contribution counts in creating a sustainable future. This is essential to enhancing quality of life. Our national day of volunteering highlights our commitment, but our work to contribute to a healthier future continues in big and small ways every day.”

Nestlé employees will host Project WET Water Festivals for Boys & Girls Club chapters in Cleveland, OH; Burbank, CA; Stamford, CT and other locations across the country, building upon Nestlé’s long-standing partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. These festivals include interactive activities to encourage education around water conservation and sustainability in a fun and engaging way.

“We applaud the Nestlé employees who are taking the initiative to educate children in the communities where they live and work. It’s critical that young people understand the important ways they can protect, conserve and manage the water we have now and in the future,” said Dennis Nelson, Project WET Foundation president and CEO. “We are glad that Nestlé employees will be able to use Project WET materials to help develop the next generation of responsible water stewards.”

Employees from Nestlé businesses in 47 states will host more than 150 community events nationwide on August 10th. #NestléCares is part of the company’s larger effort to create a more sustainable future for its employees and consumers.

Globally, Nestlé Waters has been a major sponsor of Project WET for more than two decades. Nestlé Waters North America, one of the eight main businesses of Nestlé in the U.S., first supported Project WET in 1992 and continues to sponsor several water festivals each year.

Nestlé Waters China Shares Ecolab’s Clean and Conserve Message with 62,000+ Students

Fri, 2017-08-04 14:25

A group of children receiving water education materials and training through Nestle Waters China More than 160 schools and 62,000 students and families have new resources to teach about water thanks to the work of Project WET, Nestlé Waters China and Ecolab. Nestlé Waters’ School Project has provided Ecolab’s Clean and Conserve education materials free of charge to 80 schools with 40,000 students. Nestlé Waters China employees have directly implemented the interactive lessons with an additional 80 schools and 22,000 students, and a family carnival held in June reached another 100 families. This outreach is part of a larger effort by Nestlé Waters China to reach 300,000 people in China with water education via the Clean and Conserve program.

Shanghai schoolchildren toss a globe to determine the percentage of water on the Earth's surface The Clean and Conserve Education Program, a water conservation and hygiene education program launched by Ecolab and Project WET in 2014, has been in use in Shanghai since 2016. Nestlé Waters China has been a longtime sponsor of Project WET in China, reaching millions of children since the program began there in 2010. The two companies have been cooperating on water education efforts in China since Clean and Conserve implementation began in Shanghai.

Students in Shanghai use the Clean and Conserve Your Water children's activity booklet Clean and Conserve includes lessons, activities and other learning resources for children and youth ages three through 18, as well as educators. Visit the Clean and Conserve page to learn more. Originally published in English, Clean and Conserve materials are also available in Chinese, Spanish for Mexico, German, French for Canada and Portuguese for Brazil (French and Portuguese materials are available for download from the English-language page).

Coming Solar Eclipse Offers Opportunities for Citizen Scientists

Fri, 2017-07-28 09:45

On Aug. 21, the entire continental United States will experience something rare: a total solar eclipse. The "path of totality"--that is, the maximum phase of the eclipse during which the Moon's disk completely covers the Sun--crosses the country from Oregon to South Carolina, leaving areas of 14 states to experience nigh-like darkness for approximately two minutes in mid-day. The eclipse begin in the United States at 10:15 a.m. PDT off the coast of Oregon and will depart at approximately 2:50 p.m. EDT in South Carolina.

With millions of people already making plans to view the eclipse (safely with eye protection, naturally!) NASA is inviting viewers to participate in a nationwide citizen science experiment, collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via their phones. As NASA explains, "The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, or GLOBE, Program is a NASA-supported research and education program that encourages students and citizen scientists to collect and analyze environmental observations. GLOBE Observer is a free, easy-to-use app that guides citizen scientists through data collection."

Here's a video that explains more:

If your school will already be in session, this represents an excellent opportunity to get students involved in real-life data collection. To learn more, visit NASA's Eclipse 2017 website.

Ecolab scientists talk water, science, hygiene and education in interview series

Wed, 2017-07-26 10:16

Since the Clean and Conserve Education Program was launched in 2014, Ecolab scientists in all four of the program’s target markets—the United States, Mexico, China, and Germany—have shared their expertise with the Project WET blog via the “Ask the Scientist” series. Now all of their interviews have been collected in one place, the Ask the Scientist page. Click the link to learn what these scientists do at Ecolab, why water matters in their work and what they want to teach young people about water.

Ask the Scientist: Tobias Personke of Ecolab Germany

Mon, 2017-07-17 11:54

Tobias Personke of Ecolab Germany Before Tobias Personke joined Ecolab, he worked as a chef. He also studied nutrition science and home economics and worked in other aspects of the food industry. In 2007, he took a job as a senior technical support specialist in Ecolab’s Institutional Division, a part of the European Technical Service Team. Now a father of two as well as an Ecolab employee in Germany, Tobias has strong feelings about the importance of water. He answered a few questions about why water education matters in our latest installment of the “Ask the Scientist” series:

Project WET Foundation (PWF): One of the major focus areas of the Clean and Conserve program is hygiene education for young people. If you were talking to a classroom of 10-year-olds, what would you want them to know about water from a hygiene perspective?

Tobias Personke (TP): Water from a hygiene perspective is a double-edged sword. In areas of the world where clean water is abundant, water is the best basis to create a healthy environment. But if water is scarce, or water resources are not reliable, water can be also the starting point for diseases or even outbreaks. If everyone doesn’t take care of this precious resource, water quality will turn more and more toward the second alternative. At that point, reversing the process will become more and more expensive or may even be impossible

PWF: Professionally and/or personally, what are the biggest water challenges that you deal with?

TP: My biggest personal challenge at the moment is to train my two little kids to practice behaviors that are sustainable (e.g., do not let the tap run for so long) and hygienic (e.g., water + soap give better results).

PWF: How does what you do at Ecolab address some of those challenges?

TP: When training bigger customers from the hospitality or kitchen sector these days, sustainability is always an important topic, and water savings or water quality plays a big role. In many cases, these customers have already implemented and are looking to measure sustainability goals. We are always looking for the latest equipment, chemistry and processes to make these plans work or even exceed them, while also giving food for thought to broaden their perspective.

PWF: What role can water education play in addressing water challenges?

TP: Water education is similar to nutritional education. You need to embed the seed as early as possible because it is not ensured that all families can offer good role models. If you can guide the way to responsible behavior early on, chances are good those behaviors will stick.

Previous “Ask the Scientist” entries:

Dr. Raj Rajan, Ecolab’s RD&E Vice President and Global Sustainability Technical Leader

Rafael Ornelas, Regional leader of the research center for Mexico and Northern Latin America for Ecolab

Dr. Jian Kun Shen, R&D Director for the Ecolab China Innovation Center in Shanghai

Sylvia Geipel, Chemist, Ecolab Germany

The Clean and Conserve Education Program, developed through the partnership between the Project WET Foundation and Ecolab, includes lessons, activities and other learning resources for children and youth ages three through 18, as well as educators. Originally published in English, Clean and Conserve materials are also available in Chinese, Spanish for Mexico, German, French for Canada and Portuguese for Brazil (French and Portuguese materials are available for download from the English-language page). Visit the Clean and Conserve page to learn more.

 

Educator and Humanitarian Ed Valeau Supports Project WET Through Photography

Fri, 2017-07-14 10:51

Dr. Edward Valeau Dr. Edward Valeau first crossed our path in 2012, when Project WET staff traveled to Houston to take part in a water festival with the Houston Chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. Friends with some of the players, Ed attended the festival and took pictures of the event, which he then generously shared. As Ed has moved away from his work as an educational consultant and strategist, he has kept in touch with us, passionate about our mission of water education. In 2013, Ed supported our program to bring rainwater harvesting to two schools in Kenya in cooperation with a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, and he has always expressed a desire to continue to support water education around the world.

Ed recently launched Valeau Photography with a show in San Francisco’s Mission District in May and has chosen Project WET as one of his nonprofit philanthropic partners. A portion of the proceeds generated from Valeau Photography’s sales will be donated to Project WET as part of Ed’s commitment to water and giving back to the community. We recently spoke to Ed about his life and art, as well as why he has chosen water education as one of his causes:

I grew up in Southwest Louisiana in a town called Patterson. At that time, it had about 2,500 people, but today the area has grown to include more than 6,000 inhabitants. Located in St. Mary Parish, the town sits on the banks of the Lower Atchafalaya River, which is an integral part of the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest wetland and swamp in the United States.

Ed grew up swimming in Bayou Teche, a tributary of the Lower Atchafalaya River One of my first recollections is my childhood experience swimming in the Bayou Teche River. It is a body of clear, fresh water that was very cooling in the hot, sticky summers in Louisiana. Bayou Teche flows southward to meet the Lower Atchafalaya River at Patterson. When I return to Patterson even today, I always find time to sit on its banks. These memories are special but also painful.  We swam in Bayou Teche because we were never allowed to swim in the public pools during my childhood and young adult years during the era of segregation.

I attended Hattie A. Watts High School, earning a high school diploma that read, “Graduate from an Approved Colored School.” I obtained my bachelor’s degree in English Education from Southern University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). From there, I went on to earn a master’s degree from California State University Hayward. I later enrolled at the University of Southern California for graduate studies and then went to the University of California Berkeley, where I earned a doctorate in Higher Education Administration and Organizational Planning and Development.

Along the way, I received honors as an American Council on Education Fellow, Fulbright Scholar and Paul Harris Fellow. I was also a recipient of the Association of California Community Colleges highest honor for leadership, the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award. I ended my career as CEO Emeritus of Hartnell Community College in Salinas, California. During my tenure as a CEO, I served on the National Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges, Chief Executive Board for CEOs of California Community Colleges and the Monterey County Foundation Board, to name a few. I am currently a board member for a start-up company called Wexus Technologies Inc. Wexus aims to reduce water and energy usage in the agricultural industry. I also serve as their educational advisor.

I am the author and co-author of several books and book chapters on leadership and international education in the area of community colleges and their global counterparts. I co-founded the ELS Group, a very successful search firm in Northern California, and I am founder of Valeau International and Associates, which does consulting work in education, strategic planning and leadership nationally and internationally. Currently, however, I am devoting my full energy and time to creating images through photography.

Whenever I’m asked about how long I have been doing photography, I always say “not long enough, because once engaged, the quest for the shot is endless.” But to be more precise, I started snapping pictures more than 20 years ago with very little attention to details such as light, color, shutter speed, ISO and metering. About 10 years ago, I decided to invest in the right equipment and re-educate my mind to photography’s many intricacies. I set about internalizing the aforementioned concepts, being careful to learn more about the camera and the art of capturing shots. My maturity has evolved to a point where I know the power of the camera and the role of the photographer as witness to a moment of truth at a certain time, in a specific place, with objects both animate and inanimate.

During a recent trip to Canada's Banff National Park Ed photographed one of his new favorite water places, Lake Moraine What excites me about photography is having the ability to see in ways that were not possible to me before. Everything in the universe follows lines and patterns influenced by light, depth and perception. I love that my awareness of what is around me is heightened. I am excited about seeing objects unfold every day and having the ability to photograph those things for others to see, have and admire. I am also fascinated with how stories can emerge from a single picture or set of pictures. I love the freedom photography offers because it is a solo act, and when you are in the moment, there is no outside distraction. Finally, I love photography for the ability it gives me to make a difference, at least on the level I have chosen: helping organizations that help others by giving a portion of my proceeds back.

For part of that program of giving back, I chose Project WET and water education around the world because I know from personal experience what it means to not have water or for it to be unclean. I cycled with a friend through various parts of West Africa in the mid-1990s, sleeping and eating in villages and drinking polluted water out of necessity. It was a life-altering experience mentally and physically. After getting sick, I knew that I could be cured, so the suffering was temporary. But I imagined the pain of having to drink something every day that is harming your health and life expectancy—whether knowingly or unknowingly. I learned quickly we cannot take water for granted nor can we afford for it to be polluted.

I was also significantly influenced a few years ago by Project WET’s creative and powerful approach to educating a traditionally disenfranchised group of students in an urban setting on a Historically Black College Campus in Texas. As a former secondary school teacher and professor, I appreciated how students were engaged and eager to learn about something they had no idea about and likely took for granted. I saw the importance of this work, and I saw the light bulbs switch on in the eyes of the students who were learning. I knew then that I wanted become involved and assist Project WET.

To learn more about Ed and see an online gallery of his photographs, visit the Valeau Photography website. Project WET is grateful for the support from Ed and Valeau Photography.

Ask the Scientist: Ecolab Germany’s Sylvia Geipel

Thu, 2017-07-06 09:55

Sylvia Geipel, Chemist at Ecolab in Monheim, Germany With a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences at Niederrhein, Sylvia Geipel has worked at Ecolab in Monheim since 2013. Starting as a senior lab technician, Sylvia in 2015 became a chemist with the European RD&E Industrial Kitchen Hygiene Department. In that role, she not only handles the kitchen hygiene portfolio but also serves as a technical expert for global projects. She is also a leader in organizing customer tours in the Monheim facility.

Given that her work sometimes involves explaining complicated scientific concepts to people outside of the technical field, Sylvia has embraced the Clean and Conserve program--which is now available in German--as a way to further reach the public with information about water as “our most important limited resource.” As part of our ongoing “Ask the Scientist” series, we asked Sylvia why educating young people about water is important to her, what some of the water challenges she sees are and how water educations helps address those challenges:

Project WET Foundation (PWF): One of the major focus areas of the Clean and Conserve program is hygiene education for young people. If you were talking to a classroom of 10-year-olds, what would you want them to know about water from a hygiene perspective?

Sylvia Geipel (SG): First and foremost, I need to say that I really appreciate the opportunity to work with an organization like Project WET that is truly focusing on water education. Protecting our resources, especially water as our most important limited resource, is often not treated with the urgency it deserves. ‘Clean Water’ is one of the four primary pillars of Ecolab’s vision, the others being ‘Safe Food’, ‘Abundant Energy’ and ‘Healthy Environments’. Our general approach is to educate on the importance of water and how it is used for our everyday products along with the fact that water is a limited resource. In guided Customer Experience Center Tours, for example, we are giving our customers data and facts about water usage. When water is viewed as a limited resource, this often illustrates the need for action as a community to conserve and maintain clean water.

Drop in the Bucket graphic representing the amount of water on Earth Coming back to your question on younger people’s education; one specific Project WET demonstration comes to mind when we go into schools. The “Drop in the Bucket” activity shows how water is limited resource, available worldwide at different qualities.

The demonstration starts with a 1-liter beaker filled with water to represent the overall availability of water around the globe. From that, we extract different amounts to show how little of the liter is fresh water, and how much of that is trapped in glaciers or icecaps or otherwise unavailable. Extracting only one drop from that much smaller amount then shows young people the amount that is available to run, freely accessed, every day out of the tap in a country like Germany.

PWF: Professionally and/or personally, what are the biggest water challenges that you deal with?

SG: I think in general, for both perspectives, indirect water consumption is the biggest challenge we are dealing with. Of course, everybody gets taught to turn off the water tap while cleaning their teeth or lathering their body in the shower. These are important but still small contributions. My challenge both personally and professionally is how we can impact the availability of water on a global scale. We are using tap water to fill swimming pools or to irrigate the garden, and the challenge is to find the right balance in our attitude toward water. The Ecolab building here in Monheim is one of the positive examples where water is both used and conserved. We use rain water for sanitary facilities but also use a lot of tap water for our testing in laboratories, with the end goal of the research being a reduction of overall water usage.

PWF: How does what you do at Ecolab address some of those challenges?

SG: At Ecolab, we focus on educating people the best we can, as shown above with our programs and demonstrations in schools. We are also supporting our customers in being more efficient during cleaning procedures related to water and energy consumption as well as water treatment. Frequent training of employees and customers support this education, as do cleaning cards, presentations, trainings and videos. When I think of developing a new product innovation, I ask myself a few questions: Are the products eco-friendly and sustainable? Do they preserve fresh water and reduce waste water? And of course, do they meet customer needs?

PWF: What role can water education play in addressing water challenges?

SG: From my perspective, training and education are key in changing the human mentality to view water as a precious resource, the way it should be treated. Project WET gives me the chance to present this important topic to our youngest generation, who are our future. Of course, changing behavior is not always easy, but everybody needs to take the first step on their own. Having multipliers like young children learn to treat water respectfully and, more importantly, pass the story on, helps tackle water challenges in the future. I always finish my lessons at school by naming the kids as “WaterStars” ("WasserHeld" or “water hero” in German). They all get stickers or pins as a kind of certification. I then tell them that with this promotion comes a great responsibility: to train and teach others to not waste water and treat water as a resource needing protection.

Previous “Ask the Scientist” entries:

Dr. Raj Rajan, Ecolab’s RD&E Vice President and Global Sustainability Technical Leader

Rafael Ornelas, Regional leader of the research center for Mexico and Northern Latin America for Ecolab

Dr. Jian Kun Shen, R&D Director for the Ecolab China Innovation Center in Shanghai

The Clean and Conserve Education Program, developed through the partnership between the Project WET Foundation and Ecolab, includes lessons, activities and other learning resources for children and youth ages three through 18, as well as educators. Originally published in English, Clean and Conserve materials are also available in Chinese, Spanish for Mexico, German, French for Canada and Portuguese for Brazil (French and Portuguese materials are available for download from the English-language page). Visit the Clean and Conserve page to learn more.

 

WaterStar: New Mexico’s Doña Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association

Mon, 2017-06-12 14:36

This is the latest in a series of posts highlighting people and organizations around the world that embody the ideals of the Clean and Conserve Education Program: making the world a safer and healthier place through water conservation and hygiene education. WaterStars will receive printed copies of each book as well as enamel WaterStar pins to recognize their work. Any individual or organization that has used Clean and Conserve materials is eligible for consideration to be a WaterStar award winner. Submit your story to learn more.

Serving more than 15,000 people, the Doña Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association (Doña Ana MDWCA) is a membership association that exists to provide water and wastewater services to five districts in the southern New Mexico town of Las Cruces. The Doña Ana MDWCA water system includes 12 wells and seven tanks with a 4.5 million-gallon capacity and a wastewater facility with a capacity of 200,000 gallons.

Part of the Doña Ana MDWCA mission includes public education, which led Stephanie Nelson, an accounting clerk for Doña Ana MDWCA, to download the free Clean and Conserve Education Program materials last fall. Since then, the association has shared them whenever they can, Stephanie said in a recent interview.

“The materials are handed out to visiting children in our office when their parents are completing new member information or discussing their accounts,” she explained. “The activity booklets especially resonate with the children who visit our office; however, the information is extremely beneficial for public education overall.”

In addition to reaching children and parents who visit the office, Doña Ana MDWCA also takes part in the Las Cruces Water Fair, a daylong water festival for all area third and fourth graders, hosted by the City of Las Cruces.

“About 1,400 students attend each year,” Stephanie noted. “The Fair has booths set up for various organizations, and we spend all day teaching children the importance of water conservation through public education and fun activities like those in the Clean and Conserve Activity Guide for Educators.”

Being able to offer education to consumers through materials like Clean and Conserve is critical to encouraging responsible water stewardship, she added.

“The information this provides to the public is invaluable to continue an open dialogue of water preservation,” Stephanie said. “We will continue to utilize all of the materials provided to further our pursuits of water conservation and public education, and we will also support the public schools on furthering the education of our community.”

The Clean and Conserve Education Program, developed through the partnership between the Project WET Foundation and Ecolab, includes lessons, activities and other learning resources for children and youth ages three through 18, as well as educators. Visit the Clean and Conserve page to learn more. Originally published in English, Clean and Conserve materials are also available in Chinese, Spanish for Mexico, German, French for Canada and Portuguese for Brazil (French and Portuguese materials are available for download from the English-language page).

Other WaterStars:

Joseph Dabuo of Ghana (June 23, 2016)

Ashley Satterfield of the USA (July 20, 2016)

Supriya Khound of India (October 25, 2016)

Jamice Obianyo of the USA (January 19, 2017)

EECO Foundation of Pakistan (February 1, 2017)

Beautiful Minds Ethiopia (March 13, 2017)

Southern California volunteer connects with inner-city kids using water education and life experience

Thu, 2017-06-08 15:16

Rob Griffith of NWNA uses Project WET to teach about water in ways that help him connect with kids of all backgrounds When Rob Griffith stands in front of a middle school classroom in an inner-city school in southern California, he sees kids eager to learn when the lessons are interactive and fun. He also sees a bit of himself.

Rob, a zone sales development manager for Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) in south Orange County, says that he can relate to students facing life challenges that can impact their school performance.

“I grew up as a child in need, in a low-income area, with a single parent,” Rob explains. “As a result, one of my personal goals in life is to give back where I can."

Rob and other NWNA volunteers often take part in community events to teach about water After joining NWNA about a year ago, Rob looked for ways to get involved in the community through the company and soon heard about the longtime relationship between NWNA and the Project WET Foundation.

“My manager, Jennifer Dunbar, told me about Project WET,” Rob says. “She had been trained to use Project WET as part of Nestlé’s commitment to community involvement through water education and told me how to get in touch with Project WET to get trained.”

In February, Project WET USA Senior Program Manager Julia Beck and Publications Manager Megan Regnerus traveled to southern California to train Rob and two dozen other volunteers. After completing training, Rob and one of his sales managers, Richard Cardenas, jumped in with both feet, finding classrooms and other venues in which to share interactive water education with students and continually seeking out new opportunities to teach about water.

NWNA sales manager Richard Cardenas and Rob often volunteer together as a team “Richard has been doing all of this with me. It helps to have a partner,” Rob says, adding that Richard’s wife works in inner-city schools, which has helped them reach schools where resources are low and challenges are high.

“I primarily target middle schools in lower-income areas because there can be a lack of resources and volunteers in those schools,” Rob says. “The students we have met get super excited when they see us walk in to the room with the blow-up globe and the big blue water kit. You should see the smiles and the way their faces light up! I love the fact that they’re learning and are so happy to see a positive role model to inspire them.”

In addition to teaching in classrooms, Rob has also helped nurture an innovative partnership with local law enforcement to incorporate water education into community events.

“An employee in our Colton branch has kids who attend elementary school there, and in that school, there is a team of police officers with a focus on community involvement and children,” he says. “I was working a Project WET event at another school, and that Colton employee asked if I would be interested in bringing water education to police-sponsored career day events at his child’s school.”

Rob has been working with local law enforcement officers in Southern California to increase water awareness at police-sponsored community events Sponsored by the Colton and Rialto police departments, these events provide life counseling and guidance to low-income schools with limited resources.

“This Colton employee gave me the name of a police officer who was interested in partnering up to link their events with water education. As a result, that police department has invited us to more community-based events, allowing us to reach more kids with water education,” Rob explains.

Rob says that the interactivity of Project WET is key to making the lessons effective in these educational environments, where some kids are dealing with serious challenges.

“We see some children with mental health issues or with parents who have drug issues; there are kids who are facing homelessness…basically, there can be a number of different challenges that can make it difficult for some kids to stay engaged,” he notes.

“Project WET really allows me to teach kids in a way that they have fun learning,” Rob says. “That’s what I love about the program. I’m not just talking to them or showing them slides. They get to stand up, throw the globe around, make bracelets to learn the water cycle, you name it. We’re often limited on time, but even with just one activity, kids get really excited. They want to participate however they can.”

Rob says that bringing Project WET into the schools as an employee of NWNA is another way to relate to kids.

Students, volunteers and law enforcement officials gathered for a group picture during a recent event “When I go into a school and say proudly that I’m from Nestlé Pure Life, or ReadyRefresh, or Arrowhead, I specifically call that out for a reason,” he says. “What I find is that 70 to 80 percent of these kids will chime in that their mom buys Arrowhead, or their grandpa loves Pure Life. It's just one more way to show what we have in common.”

Rob and the other NWNA employee-volunteers that he works with show no signs of slowing down their commitment to giving back and teaching about water. “We’re working to get as much communication out there as we can, letting people know that we have volunteers available to teach kids about water,” he says.

For his part, Rob said he would love to visit an inner-city school each week if he had time.

“I’m just one guy, but I want to do as much as possible,” he concludes. “I was that kid at one point. I have an extra layer of understanding. That’s what drives me.”

How I Use Project WET: Engaging Kids in Need and Giving Back to the Community

Thu, 2017-06-08 14:50

Rob Griffith of NWNA uses Project WET to teach about water in ways that help him connect with kids of all backgrounds When Rob Griffith stands in front of a middle school classroom in an inner-city school in southern California, he sees kids eager to learn when the lessons are interactive and fun. He also sees a bit of himself.

Rob, a zone sales development manager for Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) in south Orange County, says that he can relate to students facing life challenges that can impact their school performance.

“I grew up as a child in need, in a low-income area, with a single parent,” Rob explains. “As a result, one of my personal goals in life is to give back where I can."

Rob and other NWNA volunteers often take part in community events to teach about water After joining NWNA about a year ago, Rob looked for ways to get involved in the community through the company and soon heard about the longtime relationship between NWNA and the Project WET Foundation.

“My manager, Jennifer Dunbar, told me about Project WET,” Rob says. “She had been trained to use Project WET as part of Nestlé’s commitment to community involvement through water education and told me how to get in touch with Project WET to get trained.”

In February, Project WET USA Senior Program Manager Julia Beck and Publications Manager Megan Regnerus traveled to southern California to train Rob and two dozen other volunteers. After completing training, Rob and one of his sales managers, Richard Cardenas, jumped in with both feet, finding classrooms and other venues in which to share interactive water education with students and continually seeking out new opportunities to teach about water.

NWNA sales manager Richard Cardenas and Rob often volunteer together as a team “Richard has been doing all of this with me. It helps to have a partner,” Rob says, adding that Richard’s wife works in inner-city schools, which has helped them reach schools where resources are low and challenges are high.

“I primarily target middle schools in lower-income areas because there can be a lack of resources and volunteers in those schools,” Rob says. “The students we have met get super excited when they see us walk in to the room with the blow-up globe and the big blue water kit. You should see the smiles and the way their faces light up! I love the fact that they’re learning and are so happy to see a positive role model to inspire them.”

In addition to teaching in classrooms, Rob has also helped nurture an innovative partnership with local law enforcement to incorporate water education into community events.

“An employee in our Colton branch has kids who attend elementary school there, and in that school, there is a team of police officers with a focus on community involvement and children,” he says. “I was working a Project WET event at another school, and that Colton employee asked if I would be interested in bringing water education to police-sponsored career day events at his child’s school.”

Rob has been working with local law enforcement officers in Southern California to increase water awareness at police-sponsored community events Sponsored by the Colton and Rialto police departments, these events provide life counseling and guidance to low-income schools with limited resources.

“This Colton employee gave me the name of a police officer who was interested in partnering up to link their events with water education. As a result, that police department has invited us to more community-based events, allowing us to reach more kids with water education,” Rob explains.

Rob says that the interactivity of Project WET is key to making the lessons effective in these educational environments, where some kids are dealing with serious challenges.

“We see some children with mental health issues or with parents who have drug issues; there are kids who are facing homelessness…basically, there can be a number of different challenges that can make it difficult for some kids to stay engaged,” he notes.

“Project WET really allows me to teach kids in a way that they have fun learning,” Rob says. “That’s what I love about the program. I’m not just talking to them or showing them slides. They get to stand up, throw the globe around, make bracelets to learn the water cycle, you name it. We’re often limited on time, but even with just one activity, kids get really excited. They want to participate however they can.”

Rob says that bringing Project WET into the schools as an employee of NWNA is another way to relate to kids.

Students, volunteers and law enforcement officials gathered for a group picture during a recent event “When I go into a school and say proudly that I’m from Nestlé Pure Life, or ReadyRefresh, or Arrowhead, I specifically call that out for a reason,” he says. “What I find is that 70 to 80 percent of these kids will chime in that their mom buys Arrowhead, or their grandpa loves Pure Life. It's just one more way to show what we have in common.”

Rob and the other NWNA employee-volunteers that he works with show no signs of slowing down their commitment to giving back and teaching about water. “We’re working to get as much communication out there as we can, letting people know that we have volunteers available to teach kids about water,” he says.

For his part, Rob said he would love to visit an inner-city school each week if he had time.

“I’m just one guy, but I want to do as much as possible,” he concludes. “I was that kid at one point. I have an extra layer of understanding. That’s what drives me.”