by Kim Tamaoka, Project WET Hawaii Coordinator
Over 750 fifth graders attended the Kauai Department of Water’s 13th Annual “Make a Splash” with Project WET Festival in late September at the Pua Loke Arboretum in Lihue, Kauai.
“Educating our youth about water and the many important aspects of conservation is our main focus for this annual festival,” said Kirk Saiki, Kauai Department of Water’s manager and chief engineer. “It’s very rewarding to see students excited to learn about such a vital subject, and through impactful interactions with our staff and community partners.”
The Kauai Department of Water is Project WET Host Institution in Hawaii, and their annual Make a Splash Festival is organized by Hawaii Coordinator Kim Tamaoka.
“This year we had the most community participation in helping us lead students through all 11 of the activities, which are based on the Project WET curriculum and other water-centric lessons,” said Tamaoka. “This type of community partnership is the reason this year’s festival was a great success, and I look forward to making next year’s event even better.”
The 11 organizations, local businesses, county and state agencies that taught the water activities included the Kauai Fire Department; Grove Farm Company Inc.; NOAA’s Marine Wildlife Program; Hawaii Department of Health—Safe Drinking Water Branch; East and West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Kukuiula Development Company; The Specific Chiropractic Center; Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)–Division of Aquatic Resources; DLNR–Division of Forestry and Wildlife; Kauai Invasive Species Committee; and Aqua Engineers Inc.
In addition to the community partners mentioned above, the following supporters contributed their time, assistance and resources for this year’s festival: Hawaii Department of Education; University of Hawaii –College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Kauai Agricultural Research Center; Kauai County Farm Bureau; County of Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.; Hawaii Rural Water Association; Kapaa High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC); Kapaa High School National Honor Society (NHS); Kauai Board of Water Supply; and Kauai Department of Water staff, families and retirees.
The Make a Splash with Project WET Festival for Kauai’s fifth grade students serves to educate students about water through dynamic hands-on activities, games and educational exhibits. Students learn how this critical natural resource affects water-dependent activities like agriculture, recreation, the local industry and wildlife habitats. Students leave the event with a better perspective on how they can contribute to water’s wise use and protection.
Kauai is currently the only island in Hawaii that organizes this festival. This year, the Kauai Department of Water funded the school buses that brought the students to participate in the festival.