Water festival teaches children importance of natural resourcesPublished 8:10pm Wednesday, March 19, 2014
It might not have been the warmest weather to spend a day at Wind Creek State Park Tuesday, but none of the students were complaining.
They were snuggling down into their parkas and toboggans, maybe, but not complaining, as they got up close and personal with bass and catfish, learned a bit about canoeing and saw first-hand the importance and scarcity of fresh water. More than 220 county fourth-graders were at Wind Creek Tuesday for the Tallapoosa County Water Festival.
Another 200 or so from Stephens Elementary School in Alexander City enjoyed the fun Wednesday.
The event, organized by the Middle Tallapoosa River Basin Clean Water Partnership, aims to get local children better acquainted with the abundant water resources in the area and illustrate to them the importance of water conservation.
“They love it,” said Partnership Coordinator Sabrina Wood. “We had it last year and all of our feedback was positive. It’s a very good trip for them. They get to get out in our environment, see the water, see nature and have a good time learning very valuable lessons.”
The fun was in the air on both days. With the help of volunteers from a wide variety of area groups and organizations, the students were smiling wide as they learned to paddle canoes and kayaks on the lakeshore. Giggles and squeals rang out across the park as other students got to feel, or in a few instances, kiss bass, crappie and other native fish species.
“There are a lot of efforts to take care of Lake Martin,” County Extension Coordinator Shane Harris said. “We wanted to do the water festival again this year to introduce the kids to Lake Martin.”
Harris said there are lots of local children who have never had a chance to visit Lake Martin or Wind Creek State Park, despite its close proximity.
“It’s also a great chance to stress the importance to this generation of how important Lake Martin is to this region and how having a clean water source is for this county,” he added.
By getting the fourth-graders out and giving them a chance to experience all the beauty and fun that’s available on the water, Harris said, they hope to impress on them “the importance of being good stewards of the environment.”
Beyond the canoeing and fish experiences, the students participated in hands-on activities demonstrating how little of the world’s water can actually be used as drinking water, and one illustrating how the watershed works through the process of making an ice cream float.
Sponsors included the LakeWatch of Lake Martin, Exelon Energy, the Lake Martin Resource Association, Alabama Power, the Lake Martin HOBOs, the Lake Martin Lions Club, ADEM, the City of Alexander City, Alabama State Parks, Russell Lands, Attorney Larkin Radney and State Rep. Mark Tuggle.
Volunteers came from the Tallapoosa County Master Gardeners, Tallapoosa and Coosa County RSVP groups, Auburn University, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and many other groups.
Harris said he hopes to continue getting area youth closer to the water. He said he’s working on a 4-H sport fishing day that he hopes the Extension Office can put on this summer.