Elementary students get their hands wet in water education
Less than three percent of the water on earth is fresh water, and the children of Park City are learning how to take care of it.
At the fifth annual water festival on Tuesday 521 elementary students crowded into St. Mary’s Church to learn about water conservation and the importance of not putting bacon grease down the garbage disposal.
The program began five years ago and was held at the Miner’s Hospital, with 15 presenters. This year there were over 20 presenters, allowing each student group to see 7 to 10 presentations.
For the event, Recycle Utah partnered with the Swaner Nature Preserve to host a hands-on learning experience for fourth-graders around the district. Water education is included in the core curriculum for that grade, they learn about the three phases of water and the importance of it in ecosystems.
John Howard, a fourth-grade teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School said one of the most important lessons of the day was, "how to responsibly use water since we live in the second driest state."
He was enthusiastic about the different stations set up by different organizations in the community including Mountain Regional Water, The Living Planet Aquarium, and the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District. Most booths were manned by educators who designed presentations geared towards children. One presenter had a city model and poured colored water over it to demonstrate where water goes.
"I think it’s more hands on, it’s the ultimate classroom," Howard said.
The 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Colby School volunteered for the day to help facilitate presentations. Sixth-grader Skylar Goldman helped the students to make their way to different stations, and helped them to be a respectful audience.
"A lot of what the water festival is about is water conservation and ways we can keep it clean," Goldman said.
She has been working on taking shorter showers and says community members can help by doing the same and picking up pet waste.
"We are in a desert so we need to work harder at water conservation than say, Florida," she said.
Greg Larsen, Education and Land Manager for the Swaner Nature Preserve, said the students walked away from the Water Festival with more awareness about how to treat the valuable resource.
"Fish can’t live with water 363 days a year, they need it for 365," he said.
Larsen also stressed that especially in the Park City community people need to be conscientious about how they use water. With East Canyon Creek in peril, the Bureau of Reclamation is looking into ways to pump water up to this area, he said.
"There’s just not enough water with our growth," Larsen added.
President of the Board of Directors for Recycle Utah, Diane Murphy, said the students take the message home to their parents and teach them about conserving resources.
"It’s a combination of water conservation and caring about water," she said.
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.