The Greenscapes North Shore Coalition’s “Keeping Water Clean” in-classroom education program reaches hundreds of 5th grade students each year. Through six interactive stations, the students learn about where their town’s water comes from, what it takes to keep it clean, and how water moves over, through and under their community. When clean water is available at the turn of a tap, these are questions we can all forget to ask.
It is not only the students that benefit from the program; the teachers and parent volunteers consistently tell us how much they love the program. Just receiving a water bill every few months doesn’t ensure you have any idea where your water originates, or how it gets to and from your home. Parents and students alike learn what watersheds make up their towns, and that sometimes the watershed that provides their drinking water is not the same one the used water returns to.
Just that act of gathering together and discussing water is an enlightening experience. North Andover teacher Susan Baylies recounted that after doing the program last year, she and her students were paying much more attention to the world around them. They started noticing all the trash caught in storm drains. Better yet, they did something about it, collecting a shocking amount of trash for the small area they’d covered. “That was just a little section in front of the school,” says Sue “I told them to imagine how much more is in the rest of the watershed.”
This new way of thinking and seeing the world is at the heart of the Greenscapes Coalition’s mission. Along with our Greenscapes partners, the Ipswich River Watershed believes people need to be aware of how they are impacting the world around them–and how their choices and behavior affect their water. How a community treats the watershed(s) they are a part of reflects back on them. Wouldn’t you like to take pride in your town and how it prioritizes the essential resource of clean healthy water?
The group of students at Atkinson School in North Andover and the amazing eight parent volunteers who participated in the program on November 21st inspire us. They showed real interest and concern for not only the safety of their drinking water, but how they may be impacting other water sources. If these kids are the future, then the future looks bright.