Learning about water" Area fifth graders get hand-on lessons about water, environment

Kamie Stephen/Star-Herald Cabela’s event coordinator Janet Lienemann shows Ayla Ellis how to paddle a kayak correctly during Water Education for Tomorrow on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Trails West YMCA camp. Ellis is a fifth grader at St. Agnes school.

Fifth graders from around the area descended on the Trails West YMCA camp for ESU 13’s Water Education for Tomorrow.

The field day took place on Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Wednesday, Oct. 9 giving more than 340 kids the chance to spend time outside in the sun before the snow fell on Thursday.

A number of stations offered up hands-on learning experiences regarding a number of water and environmental topics.

“I learned how to be safe in the water,” said Ayla Ellis, a fifth grader at Saint Agnes. “I learned not to wear a life jacket that is too big or too small.”

Ellis also learned how to properly paddle a kayak, thanks to Cabela’s event coordinator Janet Lienemann.

“Kids drown every day because they don’t respect the water,” Lienemann said. “It’s important that we teach them to be safe, because things can happen in a second.”

Students got to try their hands at operating a irrigation siphon tube and weaved through each other during an exercise where one group represented the river and another represented rocks during an erosion exercise.

Dave Christian, of the North Platte Natural Resources District, expanded their vocabulary while he educated them on surface runoff.

“I like to teach them new words,” he said. “Like source or tributary or confluence.”

Other topics at the event included aquatic wildlife adaptions, wells, geology and groundwater, storm water, and how water moves through the water cycle.

“We also learned about how we’re polluting water and killing animals,” Matthew Palomo, a Roosevelt fifth grader, said.

Jana Schwartz, an extension assistant at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, said that teaching children about the importance of water early on is vital.

“Our valley’s main resource is agriculture,” she said. “It’s important to understand the role that water plays in that.”

Extension educator Gary Stone added that water is a finite resource and it’s important to know how to protect it and use it wisely.

“If you don’t have water, you don’t have life,” Stone said.

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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