Water Festival coming May 2: volunteer training April 30

Students learn about the water cycle at the 2018 Southern Gila County Water Festival. This year’s event takes place on May 2 at Harbison Field. Photo provided.

The sixth annual Southern Gila Water Festival is coming May 2, so in preparation for the educational event, organizers are seeking volunteers to help.

Volunteer training will take place on Tuesday, April 30 at Bullion Plaza.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Christopher Jones of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said. “We’ll have four stations and expect more than 300 kids. It’s part of the curriculum they teach in class and then they come out for a field day.”

The festival is designed to instill “a deeper understanding of water in the earth system and Arizona’s water resources to celebrate science and water stewardship, features hands-on learning activities for students.”

The curriculum has been designed for fourth grade students throughout the state and teaches them about different aspects of the hydrological cycle, technological water management and the importance of conservation.

According to Jones, there are four specific parts to the curriculum, the first is technology and conservation; second is watersheds; third is groundwater and the fourth is the water cycle.

Teachers are trained to prepare students for the event through professional development that brings modern learning techniques and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) into the classroom.

Students are surveyed both before and after the festival in order to gauge the effectiveness of the curriculum and assess what they learn from the festival.

We teach water conservation and technology, how to conserve at home, and they learn about watersheds and the water cycle,” Jones said. “We show them pictures or people carrying water on their heads to show them the importance of technology.”

The curriculum is designed by Arizona Project WET (water education foundation). In 1989, Arizona was the third state to adopt the program that started in Montana. The initial success of the program led the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to fund its development and now Project WET is in all 50 states and has an international network that encompasses 19 countries.

Jones has acted as a facilitator for the program through the Water Resources Research Center, a branch of UA Cooperative Extension.

The water festival also partners with organizations such as the Arizona Water Company, which supports the program with financial contributions as well as volunteers.

“We strongly support project WET,” Freddy Rios, local manager for Arizona Water Company, said. “We have to educate our youth about water and how it changes forms.”

The water company works closely with the schools and provides training for volunteers.

“Education is the main goal: People need to realize the importance of it,” Rios said. Our population is growing and we have to watch our water.”

Rios added that “There are never too many volunteers,” so to that end, there will be a special training taking place on Tuesday, April 30, from 9-11 a.m., at Bullion Plaza, 150 N. Plaza Circle, Miami.

There are several volunteer opportunities from preparing lesson materials, helping with set-up, facilitating lessons or greeting students. Volunteers will teach water lessons to nearly 300 students and lunch and snacks will be provided throughout the day.

For more information about volunteering, contact [email protected], or sign up at arizonawet.arizona.edu/SGilaVolunteer.

The festival will take place on Thursday, May 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Harbison Field, 1270 E. Cedar St., Globe, below Copper Rim Elementary School.

For more information, contact Julie Hasty at [email protected]

“We appreciate getting more of the community involved,” Jones concluded. “It would be great to see more community involvement. I’ve been involved since the beginning.

Any organization interested in being part of water education in Arizona, can also contact the Water Festival Team at [email protected] for more information.

Other sponsors include Freeport McMoRan, Capstone Pinto Valley Mine and Carlota Copper.

For information about Project WET, go to arizonawet.arizona.edu.

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