Conservation Education Yesteryear
At the WaterSmart Innovations conference Cynthia Barnett (author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis and Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.) showed a brief clip from the show Mad Men during the annual meeting of Alliance for Water Efficiency. The clip showed the family picnicking on a grassy slope next to the lake. When the man finished his beer he unceremoniously tossed the can into the lake. When it was time to leave, the family picked up their belongings leaving all their rubbish behind. Today if you were to witness such behavior you certainly would think it was an atrocity.
So how were attitudes changed? As a child growing up in the 1970′s I remember Woodsy Owl and the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” campaign. Woodsy is still around today, though the new slogan is “Lend a Hand – Care for the Land”. The goal then as it is now, was to indoctrinate children at a young age to care for the environment.
Conservation Education Today
The same strategy is being used today to promote water conservation. Through the Poster Session at WaterSmart Innovations I discovered a creative program currently being used by The City of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada. H2O Puppet Show is an interactive show targeted toward elementary aged children. Characters including Beaver, Don Swan, Lady Wawa and their friends put on a professional 30 minute show for 250 to 400 kids, 40 times a year. This effort promotes the water conservation message to over 10,000 children a year. The city has two different shows so they can reinforce the message with a second show the following year. According to Chris Wilson, Project Manager – Conservation & Education, they typically schedule shows two days a month and visit two schools each day.
Songs like Water Walkin’ and Only Rain with memorable melodies are used to engage the children during the shows. A 28 page post show activity package left with the teachers also includes a CD with the catchy tunes from the show. The music can be played again… and again… and again during the water conservation education activities to keep the children entertained.
In addition to the great program and activities the schools also get points towards their journey to become a certified EcoSchool. One point is earned when the kids are brought into an assembly to learn about water conservation. A second point is earned as a result of the teacher package provided for classroom use.
Early childhood education is an important and imperative tool for the success of future water conservation. Surely the children who are exposed to the H2O Puppet shows will remember when they were first bitten by the green bug. Do you?
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Twitter handles mentioned in this post:
- @A4WE (Alliance for Water Efficency)
- @Forest Service