Inyo County Schools on the Forefront of Drought Education with New Water Awareness Campaign
submitted by Annie Blakey, Educational Services, Inyo County Superintendent of schools.
When Governor Jerry Brown issued California’s first-ever, statewide, mandatory restriction on water use on April 1, 2015 calling for a 25% reduction in potable water use, Inyo Schools realized that they needed to help educate their 2500 students with a drought education program for all students Pre-kindergarten thru high school.
“We have an obligation to assist in this drought and the most important aspect is educating our youth to become better stewards of our water and help educate their family into conservation,” said County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Terry McAteer
The campaign, targeting all Inyo County students from kindergarten through twelfth grades, consists of two programs: a Water Detective awareness program for K-4 and a science curriculum for grades 5-12.
Middle and high school students start with a quiz to assess what they already know about local and statewide water use. They will also be encouraged to use figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2013 Bishop Water Rate Study to calculate how much water would be saved each day in Inyo County if we were to match Governor Brown’s call for 25% reductions in water use. Students will then generate and share lists of ways they can personally conserve water.
Countywide Science Coordinator Kerry Lozito developed the curriculum for grades 5-12 in cooperation with local science teachers and agency specialists including Bob Harrington, Director of the Inyo County Water Department; Dave Grah, Director of the City of Bishop Public Works; Dustin Blakey, Director of Inyo-Mono U.C. Cooperative Extension; and Mark Drew, Sierra Headwaters Regional Director for California Trout and the Director of Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.
“The main goal of the curriculum is to motivate and empower young people to take action in the face of California’s current water crisis,” said Superintendent McAteer.
The Pre-K through 4th grade Water Detective program has the same goal, but has tailored the message to the younger group with a fun visit from “Water Detective Chief” Mitzi Eilts, who teaches the children why water is important and the role they play in saving it.
After the children participate in the presentation, they are given kits—that include an assortment of items ranging from fun, Water Detective I.D. cards, badges and magnifying glasses to more educational activity books—and a simple, yet powerful, mission: detect ways to save water and encourage others to do the same.
McAteer wished to congratulate his staff in meeting tight timelines to get this program into every classroom before the end of the school year. He commended staff member Annie Blakey for coordinating the entire project.
cover photo by Gary Young Photography.