Penn State Behrend's Children’s Water Festival creates young conservationists

ERIE, Pa. — For a fifth grader, Amari Eaddy is well on his way to becoming a solid conservationist.

The Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School student smiled as he threw a life-size die as part of an Interactive Watershed Game at Penn State Behrend.

“The water we drink comes from Lake Erie, and if more people are going to come to our city, we need to keep the water clean,” Eaddy said. “People litter, and our water gets dirty then, so we all need to do our part.”

Eaddy’s takeaway came from attending the annual Children’s Water Festival, held May 17 at Penn State Behrend. More than 1,000 Erie County fifth-grade students attended the festival, which is modeled after the national Children’s Groundwater Festival. The daylong event is designed to educate students about the importance of water, including ground water, surface water, watersheds, water quality and water conservation, through dynamic, hands-on activities.

“They’re getting to see firsthand how they can play a role in conserving water and protecting our environment,” said Ann Quinn, director of Greener Behrend and co-chair of the festival. “Attendees can become young advocates for water conservation as they take what they learn today and spread awareness to both their friends and families.”

For Eaddy, that was the plan.

“I can’t wait to get home and tell everyone about my day,” he said as he proudly displayed his Children’s Water Festival shirt.

Activities during the day were led by Penn State Behrend faculty members and water and natural resource experts from several organizations, including Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Penn State Extension, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the Erie County Conservation District, Erie County Sustainability, the Erie Maritime Museum and others.

Julianna Fritts, a student at Clark Elementary, especially enjoyed creating a rain stick. Starting with her grandfather, who had been a photographer, the arts have always been a big part of her family. Thus, she was right at home when it came to designing her stick.

“I’m going to draw on this and put some symbols. I just really love doing crafts,” Fritts said. “But it’s also fun because we learn while we do this. I’ve learned that there’s so little fresh water, so it’s important to conserve.”

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Last Updated May 29, 2018