Plains, Texas (August 20, 2018)– Two area teens were selected to participate in the prestigious Texas 4-H Water Ambassador Program July 21-28, 2018. Macy Downs, daughter of Kristi and David Downs, a Sophomore at Plains High School along with Riley Calk, daughter of Elizabeth and Crockett Calk, a Junior at Denver City High School spent eight days touring and learning about all things “water” in and around the state of Texas.
They began their adventure at a Welcome Reception in Austin where new Water Ambassadors, parents, and program sponsors were introduced and recognized. An engaging keynote address was presented by Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts (TAGD) president Dirk Aaron on the value and importance of leadership, education, service, and conservation of water resources. Dirk Aaron is the General Manager of the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District in Belton, a former Texas AgriLife Extension Agent, and was instrumental in groundwater district development.
The Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program provides high school age youth an opportunity to gain advanced knowledge and practice leadership skills related to the science, technology, engineering, and management of water in Texas. By connecting with water professionals, Water Ambassadors gain exposure and recognition as youth leaders, learn about internship opportunities, and explore the diverse career paths in the water industry. The Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program is led by Texas 4-H and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and supported in part by the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation.
Each year, up to (32) individuals are selected to join the Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program. Those selected will participate in a summer 4-H2O Youth Leadership Academy. The first year of the program approximately (16) students participated in Tier I with nearly double the number of participants in year two with (28) enrolled. Over the next (12) months, Ambassadors will provide a minimum of (40) hours of service to their communities. The Leadership Academy is an educational tour experience exposing youth to a wide range of water resources, water uses, ecosystems, and water quality concerns.
As a Tier I Water Ambassador, Macy and Riley learned about applied research and technology, water law, policy, planning, and management strategies employed to conserve this valued resource. They were also able to meet and interact with leaders in the Texas water industry, gaining an appreciation for the complexity of managing surface and groundwater, and developing a broad perspective of the value of water to local, regional and state economies. Both Macy and Riley will have the opportunity to continue their experience next year as Tier II participants and pursue years (3) and (4) if they so choose. SOCOP will be actively recruiting interested students entering grades 9-11 in the Fall of 2019 to expand participation in our three-county area – Gaines, Terry, and Yoakum counties.
The 4-H2O Youth Leadership Academy Tour itinerary included:
- Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in San Marcos where participants were “Texas Stream Team” Certified
- San Antonio SAWS Desalination Center to learn about water desalination
- Lloyd-Gosselink Attorneys at Law where they heard about Groundwater and Surface Water Law
- Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Headquarters to learn about water supply and infrastructure as well as conservation and water science
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to gain information on Surface Water rights, water quality standards, water quality and permitting, as well as the “Take Care of Texas” initiative
- Recreation and fun at Barton Springs in Austin
- Blacklands Research and Extension Center in Temple to learn about water reuse/recycling and wastewater reuse in homes
- Texas A&M RELLIS Campus to tour the Wastewater Treatment Center
- Texas Water Resources Institute to hear about the impact of Livestock Production on Water Quality
- Lake Buchanan Dam to tour the dam facilities and learn about reservoir systems and lakes
- Central Texas GCD presented on Geophysical logging and well cameras
- Tour of the Spanish Aqueduct System and Fort McKavett in Menard on historical water use in Texas
- Tour of the Caverns of Sonora to learn about differences in cavern system development
- Lubbock High Plains UWCD and Samuel Jackson, Inc to learn about Rainwater Harvesting/water recycling system use in industry
- Abernathy & Halfway – RWH project for Livestock and Agricultural Irrigation Technology
- Texas A&M Research & Extension Center in Dallas “Water University” to learn about Urban Water Conservation programs, Xeriscape gardening, and RWH for homes/landscape use.
The 4-H2O Youth Leadership Academy is made possible by private industry and foundation sponsors. In addition, Sandy Land UWCD and Llano Estacado UWCD board of directors graciously provided scholarships to meet local ambassador registration expenses. Macy was individually sponsored by Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District (Yoakum County) where she worked this summer as an office and lab assistant. Riley was individually sponsored by Llano Estacado Underground Water Conservation District (Gaines County). The girls have already begun presentations to meet their minimum (40) hours of service and leadership. If you would like to learn more about the program or have our local Water Ambassadors present a program to your school or organization, please contact Michelle Cooper, SOCOP, at (806)891-0993 or email@example.com or visit our SOCOP Facebook page. You can also contact SLUWCD at (806)456-2155 or LEUWCD at (432)758-1127 or contact your local county AgriLife Extension office to schedule an appearance.
The Southern Ogallala Conservation & Outreach Program is the education and public relations division of the Sandy Land UWCD, South Plains UWCD and Llano Estacado UWCD. SOCOP’s mission is to spread underground water awareness and encourage water conservation practices. For more information, visit www.savingh2o.org