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Seventh Annual Lee County Water Festival


Students enjoyed the antics of the Environmental Magician Paul Cash.
Students enjoyed the antics of the Environmental Magician Paul Cash.

By Anne Miller, Lee County Water Festival Leadership Committee and Fay Garner, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, Auburn, AL

The 7th annual Lee County Water Festival was deemed a success by the more than 1,900 Lee County 4th grade students and their teachers who attended this year’s free event, May 13-14, 2010, at the Auburn University’s Haley Center. Participating students, teachers, and volunteers received a Water Festival “Make Every Drop Count” t-shirt that was designed by 4th grader Graylin Karabasz of Ogletree Elementary School.

Within the classrooms of Haley Center, the students rotated between three educational activities to help them understand the importance of clean water. In one activity, students learned about the water cycle by making bracelets with beads representing the perpetual chain of evaporation (and transpiration), condensation, precipitation, and collection. They learned that the same water has been on Earth millions of years and the limited amount of water keeps going around and around in what is called the "Water Cycle."


Graylin Karabasz of Ogletree Elementary School.
 T-shirt design winner was 4th grader Graylin Karabasz of Ogletree Elementary School.

In another class setting, students made edible aquifers. Using ice cream, clear cola, and sprinkles to represent the aquifer (underground water source), and straws to simulate a pump, the students created a tasty, hands-on illustration of how various contaminants pollute the water source.

In a third session, the students layered sand and other items to simulate the natural water filtration system.

The event was topped off by a magic show put on by an environmental magician.

Before one of the entertainment shows, Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Dr. William E. Puckett presented the Leadership Committee with a Certificate of Appreciation for their commitment and dedication to conservation education in partnership with the Alabama NRCS for the last 7 years.
The Lee County Water Festival could not happen without the members of the Leadership Committee and the help of Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)/NRCS staff, community volunteers, Lee County governmental officials, area utilities, local businesses, and the Haley Center staff. The NRCS Earth Team Volunteers are also essential behind the scenes in getting supplies counted, bagged, and ready for the classes, meeting school buses, resupplying classrooms, and serving as messengers, instructors, etc.

Members of the Leadership Committee are:

  • Jerry Bentley (Smiths Station City Clerk)
  • Dennis H. Block (Auburn University Environmental Institute)
  • Erick Carson (Auburn Water Works)
  • Carolyn Coker (The Perry Garden Club)
  • Matt Dunn (City of Auburn)
  • Sheila Eckmann (Land Trust of East Alabama)
  • Jason Gardner (NRCS Lee County District Conservationist)
  • Bertha Gibbs (ACES/Ag IT)
  • Ed Gullatte (Lee County SWCD Supervisor)
  • Audy Guy (AL Forestry Commission)
  • Joey Hundley (Lee Co. Hwy. Dept.)
  • Doyle Keasal (Auburn University-Alabama Cooperative Extension System)
  • John Klepac (USDA Forest Service Auburn University)
  • Erick Lansdon (Smiths Water & Sewer)
  • Missy Middlebrooks (ADEM)
  • Anne Miller (Pilot Club of Lee Co and The Perry Garden Club)
  • Cindi Mirachi (Opelika Schools and Save Our Saugahatchee)
  • Sharon Redd (Mid-South RC&D Council)
  • Liesa Smipson (City of Auburn Water Works Board)
  • Dawn Stephens (CH2MHILL)
  • Kay Stone (Auburn University Environmental Institute)
  • Cliff Webber (Auburn University Fisheries)
  • John Wild (A-O Tourism Bureau)
  • Bridget Woodyard (RSVP Director)

The first Lee County Water Festival was in 2004 and got started after the former Lee County NRCS District Conservationist Eddie Jolley and former SWCS District Coordinator Anne Miller attended the Montgomery Water Festival. They returned full of excitement and started the Lee County Water Festival. The first event was supported by the Lee County SWCD Supervisors and NRCS, who have sponsored the festival every year since.

The mission of the Lee County Water Festival is to educate students and their families about all aspects of surface and ground water and other related natural resources and to instill a general environmental awareness and stewardship ethic in participants. Both students and teachers leave with an increased knowledge and awareness of the importance of our precious water resources and how to become better environmental stewards of these resources.

The planning is already in progress for the 8th Annual Lee County Water Festival, May 12-13, 2011. I you want to help educate students to conserve and protect our valuable water as an Earth Team Volunteer, please contact Anne Miller  or call (334) 740-5466.

Lee County Water Festival Leadership received recognition.