Federal Dollars Pay for a "Green" Field Trip
It may be cold outside, but it's never too cold for a field trip.
The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department is helping youngsters beat cabin fever and learn about nature along the way.
The federal EPA granted Alachua County $10,000 to help three schools in our area learn about the latest in natural groundwater treatment.
5th grader Daniel Koropeckyj-Cox said, "We learned about a cool adaptation that plants have..."
They know more than many adults about how soil, plant life, and micro-organisms affect our groundwater.
5th grader Rachel Fregley said, "The runoff's from all the roads with all the oil and gas."
Koropeckyj-Cox said, "Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides...anything with chemical compounds."
Williams Elementary students spent their morning learning about pollution through a hands on field trip to the UF Storm Water Ecological Enhancement Project, also known as "SEEP."
Natural Resource Program Manager Stephen Hofstetter said, "They learn to experience the whole cycle of where water comes from and how pollution plays into that."
The Federal grant pays for the 3 part educational program. The goal is to teach these kids about the causes of and possible solutions for water pollution, as well as the implications for plant and animal life.
Hofstetter said, "It's a great addition to the classroom where we can come out here and learn about how they personally can impact or make improvements to the environment."
The SEEP tour has five stations where students learned about how plants and animals impact water purification.
Dr. Mark Clark of the UF Dept. of Soil & Water Sciences said, "Storm water retention basin is designed to treat the quantity and the quality of the water. And this is one of our stations where we talk about that water quality and how the vegetation in SEEP does a much better job of treating that water and removing those pollutants so they're not finding their way into the groundwater and the surface water."
As hoped, the experience is inspiring the students to be more concerned about the environment.
Clark said, "The kids were very insightful, a lot of different questions. They made connections with climate change actually and some of the issues of storing the organic matter and peat."
And the kids said they'll take what they've learned here into their future.
5th grader Reggie Cai said, "I want to be a scientist when I grow up and maybe I can find ways to save the environment."
The three participating schools, Williams Elementary, Glen Springs Elementary and Kanapaha Middle, will complete the final portion of the educational program in January. They will design and install rain garden systems to help purify the water coming from their own school roofs.
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