Water: An Important Resource
Water: An Important Southwest Georgia Resource
During the 9th Annual Mitchell County 4-H2O Day Camp, an on-going collaboration between Mitchell County 4-H, Stripling Irrigation Research Park and Flint RiverQuarium, 130 Southwest Georgia youth were educated on the importance of taking care of the water supply to help ensure a clean abundant resource for the future.
Southwest Georgia has seen dramatic changes, from floods to droughts, in water situations during the past few years. Georgia is stepping up its efforts to do serious water planning. The economic impact surrounding our water resources is huge and good planning is essential for future economic growth. Although water is usually plentiful in Southwest Georgia, past drought conditions across the state have raised concerns about how we manage and use our water. Former Governor Sonny Perdue stated, “It's up to each and every Georgian to do their part by conserving water. By making individual conservation efforts, we can collectively help to ensure that we meet our water supply needs.” Today's youth are our future water planners and they not only need to understand the importance of water to all areas of our livelihood, but they also need to know how blessed we are to have a cleaner water supply than most other countries.
In order to help ensure a clean abundant water supply for our future, Mitchell County 4-H collaborated with other professional educational groups to educate 4-H youth, grades 5 through 12, about the importance of water to Southwest Georgia. Three days packed full of educational and fun hands-on activities were held during the 9th Annual Mitchell County 4-H2O Day Camp.
A presentation on Global Water Issues was included as a tool to reiterate not only the importance of being dedicated water stewards but also the responsibility we have to teach others to take care of our precious water sources. Collaborating with Gena Perry, an AgriCorps Fellow stationed in Ghana, West Africa, the Mitchell County 4-H Agent developed and made the presentation to 4-H2O participants about the water issues facing the population of Ghana and other areas in Africa. With over 10 million people lacking access to safe water, the need for a better water supply in Ghana is significant. Fetching water for cooking, bathing, cleaning and drinking is a common practice in Ghana. However, the lack of access to clean water causes many problems. Women and children sometimes have to walk several miles, and can be further during the dry seasons, to fetch water. Children sometimes have to miss school in order to fetch water for their families. Several factors contribute to the lack of safe water access in Ghana. Most people rely on surface water sources, which frequently contain life-threatening parasites and high microbial content. In some regions of the country, the water has significant water discoloration and contains dangerous minerals. During the dry season, many areas suffer from water scarcity. Lack of proper sanitation and hygiene frequently compounds contamination of existing water sources. Educating 4-H2O participants on the facts concerning global water issues and challenges other countries face when attempting to improve their water supply serves to remind us of the importance of taking care of our water supply to help ensure a clean abundant resource for the future. It is important for youth to see what can happen to our water supply if we don't do our share to take care of this precious resource.
130 Southwest Georgia 4-H'ers from 11 counties participated in activities focusing on water quality, water conservation, water usage, and global water issues. Scientists, researchers, and field-related personnel presented materials in an outdoor classroom setting. 4-H'ers enjoyed visits to the Flint RiverQuarium in Albany, the Stripling Irrigation Research Park near Camilla, the George Andrews Lock and Dam in Jakin and Water World in Dothan, Alabama as they learned the importance of irrigation and water conservation to agriculture and the importance of a clean water supply for recreational purposes in Southwest Georgia. 4-H'ers learned about other various water-related topics such as aquifers, personal water use, hydration, and water quality. The additional emphasis on water issues facing people in Ghana served to remind participants what could happen to our water supply if we don't take our jobs as committed water stewards seriously.
Evaluations administered through a Retrospective Post then Pre Survey were completed by 110 campers to confirm how they felt about statements before the camp as compared to after the camp. Findings from the 2016 evaluation of classes taught at UGA's Stripling Irrigation Research Park are as follows. After participating in the 2016 4-H2O Day Camp…………
• 66.4% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge regarding the importance of water to agriculture.
• 70% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of the four main row crops irrigated in Georgia.
• 55.5% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of what a meteorologist is.
• 69.1% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of how farmers know if they need to irrigate crops.
• 46.4% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of the four main row crops irrigated in Georgia.
• 65.5% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of the two main types of irrigation used in Georgia.
• 41.8% more youth indicated at posttest that they plan to go to college and study agriculture than at pretest.
• 49.1% of youth indicated an increase in knowledge of ways to conserve water.
• 75% of youth indicated they now understand why it is important to keep their water supply safe.
The results, above, indicate that participants gained significant knowledge after participating in the hands-on classes at 4-H2O, hopefully meaning they will strive to do a better job protecting and conserving our water supply while also encouraging others to do the same.
Since 2008, a grand total of over $54,000, including grants, donations, and registration fees, has been secured to fund the Mitchell County 4-H2O Day Camp and over 960 4-H'ers from Southwest Georgia have participated in the three-day water camp.
“This camp gives them a background on the importance of water, protecting water, conserving water,” said Stripling Irrigation Park Superintendent Calvin Perry. “We want them to be good stewards of water.”
Mitchell County citizen and donor of $20,000 for the camp, Mr. Charles Stripling stated, “Jennifer, the 4-H2O Day Camp is outstanding and a great collaborative effort for many groups. You are to be commended for having this vision to teach youth about the importance of our water supply. Please let me know when you need more funding. I want us to be able to keep the rate we charge the youth at a minimum. I will gladly donate another $20,000 to $25,000 to keep the Mitchell County 4-H2O Day Camp going. I will also provide any Mitchell County 4-H'er a scholarship for the $25.00 fee if need be.”
Public Value of this Program
• Southwest Georgia youth learn to be good stewards of water, which should lead to clean water for the future.
• Southwest Georgia youth learn the importance of water to agriculture.
Conservation & Management of Natural Resources