RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WATER CONSERVATIONISTS
Through funding from the National Grid Foundation, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society and Long Island Moms for Clean Water will be conducting its third “Middle School Students Go To College” Program, a student and public education campaign on the matter of Long Island’s declining groundwater quality with a focus on clean water advocacy.
The overall emphasis of the program will be to educate our youth on the dynamics of Long Island’s groundwater system, identifying sources and causes of contamination, and the need to protect and conserve Long Island’s groundwater for the future with the attention being on preventative measure, not reactive ones.
Science conclusively shows that water quality on Long Island is declining. The problem is nitrogen pollution from sewage and fertilizers, pesticides, toxic chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs that are increasingly present in our groundwater and which pose serious threats to our environment, quality of life, economy, health and safety. The biggest source of nitrogen pollution is sewage from aging cesspools and septic systems. Over 70% of homes in Suffolk County have individual cesspools or septic systems. (More information on the problem here: http://www.longislandmomsforcleanwater.org/impacts/)
The program involves Middle School classes (6th to 8th grade) from several school districts on Long Island. Teachers are provided with curriculum and activities to use for educating students about the urgency and necessity of protecting our groundwater. Students will then develop public education projects that reflect what they have learned and advance specific plans for water quality improvement. Following a rubric provided by the Society, teachers from each school will select 10 student finalists. Our staff can provide training for new teacher participants and will be available to provide assistance along the way. For more information and to get your class involved, please email the Project’s Coordinator, Jim Waring at email@example.com.
Examples of past winning projects include:
- Effects of Cemeteries on Drinking Water
- Benefits of Salt Marshes
- Impacts of Perchlorate (Fireworks) on Water Quality
- Impacts of Gas Stations on Water Quality
- Effects of Prescription Drugs on Groundwater
- Hurricane Sandy’s Impact on Water
- Acid rain
- Effects of Salt Water on Plant Growth
Middle school student finalists will then spend a half-day at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS) at Stony Brook University, where they will attend a series of lectures on water quality protection from SOMAS scientists and present their water quality improvement projects to them. The scientists and Society staff will evaluate the projects for effectiveness and creativity.
New to this year, Long Island Moms for Clean Water can also get their families involved by entering their children in an essay-writing or poster contest on the subject of what they can do at home to protect water. This new component is meant to teach families that they too can make a big difference in solving Long Island’s water crisis. Younger children (5th grade and below) can watch our educational PSAs (http://www.longislandmomsforcleanwater.org/take-action/) on how to protect water at home and create their own educational essay or poster on the subject. Posters and essays should focus on creative ways families can protect and conserve water at home and shall be submitted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (please include name, town and age). Essays should be no more than 400 words in length. Three finalists will be selected.
Winning projects from both components will then be recognized in three ways. First, student winners will present their projects to members of the New York State Legislative Delegation from Long Island as a mechanism for demonstrating how environmental education and advocacy can help shape public policy. Last year, this event was featured on News 12. Next, their projects would be displayed at the Suffolk County Water Authority’s Education Center in Hauppauge. Last, they will then be awarded at the Society’s 40th Anniversary Environmental Awards Gala.