The Current Webinar 6-Educating the Next Generation of Water Leaders

kids and water

The 6th installment of The Current Webinar series titled “Educating the Next Generation of Water Leaders” took place on Wednesday, February 18.  Listeners learned about overcoming the challenge of making water issues more relevant and personal to youth.

Elizabeth Juchems, Event Coordinator and Educator for Water Rocks! and Iowa Learning Farms, kicked things off with her introduction to “Water Rocks! Making a Splash with Youth Water Education”. Water Rocks! is Iowa’s statewide youth education campaign. Its core objective is creating a greater appreciation for water and they work towards achieving this with an extensive library of creative materials.

Water Rocks! surpasses the mark when it comes to making water education entertaining with their colorful website, games, and catchy videos that have titles like, “The Drinking Song” and “We All Live in a Watershed”, just to name a few. They also have Public Service Announcements titled “What’s in your water?”

With an outreach initiative that includes school visits, it is only appropriate that their mascot is a pack of three dogs that they fittingly refer to as “Conservation Pack.” It is an important reminder that in order to educate, you need to think outside of the box and find new and innovative ways to get people’s attention. Youth might not perk up when you stand before them and discuss water issues, but stand up there and discuss water issues with a pack of dogs? You suddenly have a captive audience.

For more information on Water Rocks! visit Don’t forget to view their music videos which are guaranteed to get any child’s attention.

The best part about this webinar was the three varied yet practical ways to think about water issues and how to make an impact.

Would you like to see thinking? And, as an educator, if you could see your students’ thinking could you increase program impacts? According to Kate Reilly, University of Wisconsin – Extension, Environmental Education Specialist, thinking about our thinking (meta-thinking) is at the heart of ThinkWater.

ThinkWater, a national USDA/NIFA funded project, is creating a national dialogue  and practice among water educators around thinking. The project provides tools for combining science content with the science of thinking so educators can embed thinking into new and existing water activities. Reilly said, “ThinkWater is a catalyst for a national discussion around water education and how we can increase knowledge, engagement and caring from K to gray through thinking.

For more information on ThinkWater visit

Cathy Techtmann, Environmental Outreach State Specialist, introduced us to G-WOW “Changing Climate, Changing Culture.” This program offers a unique approach to driving awareness of climate change based on it on Lake Superior’s coastal environment, people, cultures, and economies.

The Ojibwe tribe has resided around Lake Superior for centuries. They rely heavily on the sustainability of key plants and animals in the area for both cultural and subsistence economic purposes. In the case of the Ojibwe, wild ricing, fishing, maple sugaring and birch bark harvesting are cultural practices that can be gravely affected by a warming climate.

The key to getting their audience to resonate with idea of climate change and how it affects them is through Place-Based Evidence: Evidence that you can see, feel, or experience based on what you observe around you. What makes the G-WOW program unique is that it links place-based evidence of climate change with scientific research from sources like the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI). Their website is loaded with curricula, activity guides, interactive tools, and games to help teachers and students learn how to investigate climate change and its implications. Professional development summer institutes are also offered. Cathy referenced “The Psychology of Climate Change Communication” –Columbia University, 2009. This is a great resource for anyone looking to drive climate change awareness that isn’t quite sure how to begin the dialogue.

The Current Webinar is an exceptional resource to learn more about other projects taking place throughout the region. It is also serves as an important reminder how much we can learn from each other. We will see you in April when we cover Managing Agriculture Drainage Water. Stay tuned for exact times and presenters!

View webinar here.