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Teachers, WWOs, Pair for Outreach

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 | Posted in iWR-1-20

New Hampshire school teachers teamed up with wastewater operators in November at a workshop to explore ways to educate students and community members about water issues. It’s outreach that could spark interest in wastewater careers.

Group seated around a table

At the workshop, left to right:: Alexandra Krishnamoorthy, Matt Cusato, Jennifer Lichtensteiger, Sheila Foley, Sue Mack. n.h. des

Operators and teachers from across the state participated in more than a dozen hands-on water education activities that focused on such issues as

  • the impacts of impervious surfaces (roads, roofs, and parking lots) and how land use can affect a watershed;
  • gauging water quality by the presence, health, or absence of insect species and other invertebrates;
  • combined sewer overflows;
  • how a wastewater treatment plant works;
  • simple green solutions, such as rain gardens.

The class trained operators and teachers together to use teaching activities from Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). Similar training via a webinar will be held in early February (details below).

Lara Hooper, the Project WET coordinator at the state’s Department of Environmental Services, says she developed and led the training “to support local water education and outreach.”

“We wanted to bring wastewater operators and teachers from the same community together so they could support each other to protect water,” she says.

Fitting everything you need to know about water education into a single-day training is ambitious, but Hooper organized the day to maximize illustrating connections between issues that are not always obvious.

Topics included the geological history of the region, water cycle basics, laws, permits and regulations, what happens when you flush, and the negative impact of consumer products and urbanization.

Not-So-Odd Coupling

Of teachers and operators, Hooper says, “Teachers have access to students but are not water experts. Operators are water experts but are not trained in teaching.” They “need access to the public for a whole host of reasons.”

“Each has what the other needs,” she says.

Teachers and operators alike enjoyed the program, Hooper says.

Project WET provides educational resources, training, and advocacy around the world. The group has contacts in every NEIWPCC state and also offers online training.

Webinar February 18

WET and the EPA’s national Wastewater Office are offering a webinar on February 18 about how wastewater treatment facilities can teach the young and old alike about water resources using WET’s materials. Registration is open for the webinar.

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