LIVE OAK, FL, June 12, 2014 – The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) recently allocated $10,000 in grants to five high school projects and initiatives that encouraged water conservation, efficient irrigation management, or implemented water quality improvements during the 2014 school year.
Educational projects in local schools are one way the District invests in the future of water conservation. In January of 2014, the District accepted proposals focused towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) including agricultural classes. The grantees are Columbia High School, Fort White High School, St. Francis Catholic High School, and Suwannee High School. Teachers and students developed a rain garden, retrofitted a school farm irrigation system, incorporated fertigation into a school farm irrigation system, and other water quality and water quantity projects.
The purpose of the program is to establish hands-on experience opportunities for students, to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable water supplies for generations, to increase the understanding of how human actions affect the quality of fresh water resources and ecosystems, and to promote water stewardship among youth.
Columbia High School (CHS) leveraged their funding allocation to evaluate water quality in the school’s storm water pond, for students enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors Chemistry classes in grades 10-12. Under the leadership of Ms. Tredina Sheppard, CHS set out to “provide relevant and quality, project-based science through inquiry based learning and critical thinking.” Students conducted over seventeen tests on the school’s storm water retention pond. Examples of water quality tests include: hardness (calcium and magnesium), pH-balance (acidity), chlorine, chemical pollution, iron, and water softeners. The highlight, according to Ms. Sheppard was, “Students were very excited to have hands on experiences in the lab.” In total 120 students were reached school wide.
There is still an opportunity for high schools within District boundaries to seek funding for STEM – Ag projects addressing water conservation, water quality, or efficient irrigation management. The District will continue to accept applications from District high schools until June 20, 2014. For more information visit http://www.mysuwanneeriver.com/index.aspx?NID=395 or contact Carree Olshansky at 386-362-1001.