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

Mon, 2017-09-18 13:29

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: Helping People Understand Water Locally and Globally

Mon, 2017-09-18 13:29

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 12:00

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.

 

How I Use Project WET: Changing Perspectives About Water

Thu, 2017-09-14 12:00

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 13:40

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: