The day was cold the trip was long but 150 students from Sherman, Ashford Rumble and Nellis elementary schools had a ball attending the Water Education Festival hosted by the Coal River Group.
A program designed by the Coal River Group and the WV Division of Environmental protection, the Water Festival provided the fourth grade classes with a first class road trip and educational opportunity.
Sara Cottingham, Vista member for the Coal River Group worked for months organizing the event. Sara says, “We have conducted three of the festivals. It’s a big job but each time we walk away feeling great about the how the students respond and how great our volunteers are for helping insure that the kids are safe and the educational experience is worthwhile.”
The 2014 Water Festival was funded by a grant from the Boone County Community Foundation and affiliate of the Kanawha Valley Foundation. The funding provides for the 200 t-shirts, support materials and equipment needed for the event. Sara says, “It takes a lot of volunteers working hours and hours to teach 150 kids about clean water, bugs, fishing, kayaking and all the other things we present.”
This year’s event brought the kids to the beautiful 97 acre Meadowood Park in Tornado, WV to experience a day that provided views of the Coal Rivers Upper Falls, walking trails around the eight acre fishing lake and tours of the Coal River Groups unique Coal River Science and Education center.
The event includes seven separate learning sites which are manned by experienced and knowledgeable teachers who present the students with a lesson on each of the environmental based subjects. The schools teachers and administrators provide the important organizational support that keeps the kids moving from location to location. This year’s extra cold day required much vigilance to insure the safety and comfort of the students was maintained. The CRG provided 30 volunteers to coordinate the complicated event. A team of 12 members of the NCCC Vista team from the Morris Creek Watershed arrived on site and added much help to the volunteers and the students.
The program is considered a valuable learning experience for the kids and while it was going on one could see through the smiles and intense attention from the students just how much they appreciated the effort the volunteers put in to create the event.
Sara adds, “The Coal River Group is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all the Coal Rivers and streams within the Coal River watershed and this learning experience for students has proven over the years how important kids are in helping us clean up the Coal”. She notes,” It takes everyone in the region working together to truly make a difference in the rivers and over the past 10 years we have seen an amazing difference and improvements in the environmental health and clean-up of the three rivers. It is truly heartwarming to see everyone working together for a great goal.”