Region 2 Updates + Newsletter Submissions

Submitted by Erica Doerr (IL): 
We had a fun and successful Project WET sampler workshop for area teachers in preparation for our annual Water Festival that brings together over 500 5th grade students from local schools for a field day of learning about water.  

The greatest challenges have been rebuilding our facilitator and educator networks.  

We are starting a series of virtual Project WET facilitator meet-ups beginning in May. These check-ins will give us a chance to get to know active Project WET facilitators, their needs, and allow us to better help support their programing.  

We are looking forward to Presenting at the ANNUAL Environmental Education Association of Illinois conference and at Science in the South, a regional conference for science educators in Southern Illinois. We look forward to engage more educators and facilitators state-wide into Project WET. 

Our film Kids on the River, featuring TRIO Upward Bound students and their water school experience at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center was one of the films chosen to be shown at the World Water Film Festival in New York City last month in honor of World Water Day and the UN Water meeting.  
Guess the training in the photo below!

educators from illinois in water education training holding inflatable globe


Submitted by Kathy Mandren (IN) 

Indiana has been dormant for a while with Project WET, BUT the well has not run dry! We are piloting hybrid facilitator trainings (have accomplished 1 in the central region, 1 in the northern region and hope to have one in the southern region this Fall), hybrid workshops (our first occurred in April in combination with PLT & PWILD) and continue to offer in-person workshops. We are targeting colleges/universities with preservice courses in hopes of increasing our diversity and are reaching out to various agencies to partner/train facilitators in hopes of expanding our awareness of the curriculum, offering workshops to formal and non-formal educators across the state. Our biggest challenge is in finding a pathway for the aquifer (hidden source) to become a natural spring (public source) through a state agency. We are making small gains, however, and are starting to not only grow as a facilitator network (16 new facilitators added this year!), but also develop new programs like hybrid workshops for formal educators and tailored programming for 4-H and Girl Scouts. Our goal in the coming year is to continue to add facilitators throughout the state, increase our diversity in the network and continue to develop new types of workshops that will be useful and impactful in both formal and non-formal settings.

IN DNR/DFW discussed the One Health initiative in our retreat this year and is contemplating our role in that. One Health is putting the human medical profession at the same table with animal health and environmental specialists to look at the spread of disease holistically. It is exciting to think of the role Project WET might play with this if this is something that DNR will embrace and promote.

Also, the Indiana state fair has a section called the Pathway to Water Quality. We held our first art contest and are turning the artwork into a watercolor sheet to hand out in the education area. We also invited high school students to design our stickers that incorporate this year’s theme for the fair (basketball) and received those on Tuesday. They did a great job and I am including a picture below. (Caption: Students share sticker design for Indiana State Fair.)

students in indiana holding up paper projects

Submitted by Amanda Syers (MI) 

What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?
The Michigan Project WET network continues to grow. New facilitators have been added, and trainings are being held to reach a broader audience. Participant and facilitator numbers continue to rebound.

What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next year?
Michigan Project WET has applied to be considered as a workshop at several state and regional-level conferences with the hope of expanding our reach and continuing to build our educator and facilitator network.

Anything else happening in your neighborhood not directly PWET?
The Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI), which houses Michigan Project WET, has had a busy spring outreach and education season, where students are the scientists aboard GVSU’s two vessels, the D.J. Angus and the W.G. Jackson. (Check out the program here: Running through the beginning of June, thousands of students will be served during the spring vessel season, and all groups that choose to participate in outdoor landside programming to accompany their cruise experience outdoor Project WET activities as a part of the landside program.

Submitted by Jack Hilgert (NE) 

1. What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?
In the past year Nebraska has been working to expand its reach and empower a newer cohort of facilitators to lead workshops across the state. A mix of preservice, in-service, nonformal, and early childhood trainings have kept the program busy. Over the past year, Jack has worked to re-establish relationships with preservice programs across the state.
Thanks to ee360 and other funding Project WET and/or Project Learning Tree are now in 6 college/university programs throughout the year, some twice a year. This has helped to bolster our reach to formal K-12 audiences. Nebraska appreciates the efficient funding avenues that National Project WET creates when funding arises at the National level to support these efforts.
Getting Little Feet WET and Online "Sampler" workshops continue to be the most popular public-facing opportunities that folks register for.
The main highlight for Jack has been seeing educators use activities with students. After 3 years of being in his role of state coordinator, Jack has started to see counterparts in various settings use PLT and WET at events, programs, and outreach. It is rewarding to hear from them after training that they used the curriculum, what worked well, what they want to adapt for future, etc.

2.What have been your greatest challenges?
The largest challenge is limited time and capacity. There continues to be a great thirst for environmental education after the pandemic, but some requests for student-direct programming cannot be met due to limited staff time. Workshop requests are also coming in so frequently that some months have been difficult to balance in 2023.

3.What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next year?
Nebraska plans to build some better tools to connect the PLT/WET curricula to the Nebraska state standards. A survey of educators trained in 2022 stated that these tools are necessary to help them integrate more PLT/WET lessons throughout the academic calendar year.

4.Personal news:
Jack is going to trial a graduate level education course with UNL this summer titled "Nature of Science" to see if a Masters in Education is something he wants to pursue.

Looking for ideas? Submitted by Lauren Daniels: In case you missed this update from Lauren Daniels in your email.

Just thought I’d update everyone on what ended up happening with my macroinvertebrate stream-side activity last week.  Remember? I sent out an SOS call to my network (you!) looking for ideas?  WELL…let me tell you:

First off, I received emails from several of you with such great ideas! I need to give shout-outs to: Carissa Longo, Dennis Clement, Betsy Ukeritis, Jim Ekins, Jack Hilgert, Melissa Mullins, and Tomi Bergstrom for sending inspiration, ideas, and general support. I’m going to be mortified if I forgot anyone here, but thank you so much for just sending me your thoughts.  Also shout-outs to my partner in crime, Rebecca Coppa, for helping me bring it all together.  It was all so inspiring! This village is the BEST village.

Ok, so I heard many different ideas that I ended up creating a scavenger hunt of macros.  I realized the rain was approaching on Saturday, so I decided to make it indoor/outdoor.

I created this pdf on Canva. It took about maybe 15 minutes to create.  I used a zip file of images that Betsy sent me. You can use this anytime: Canva PDF

Rebecca printed out about 18 copies of this, so I had 15x18 “tokens” for students to find.  We ended up having an indoor “trade show” format for Earth Day thanks to some serious rain, so Rebecca and I put one copy of the copy page “What do we find in a healthy stream?” in a ziploc along with each macro/feature slips.  So one Ziploc had about 18 copies of “Dragon Fly Larva”.  I had volunteers hide all 15 bags at various exhibitor tables in advance, visible for all passer-byers. Some vendors were selling items, so we gave those folks slips to attract traffic to their table- so they loved it!

THEN, my activity was scheduled at 1:00, so at 1:00 we made an announcement to the kids in attendance to go find various items that you find in a stream around the various exhibits and bring them up to the stage – one by one-to glue to the “Watershed Mural”.  We had about 5-6 volunteers on the stage to a) help kids color their macro and then b) glue the item to the mural that is titled, “What do we find in a healthy stream?”. Whenever a kid brought the slip, we cheered for them. Kids always love having cheerleaders- so we cranked up the jams on the PA and really had fun with it.

It was a huge hit.  It was fun. It was hands on.  The volunteers actually taught the kids movements to go with the macros, so at one point we even had a macro-invertebrate dance party.  I had no idea it would turn out so well.

All that to say: THANK YOU! I was so exhausted from planning other aspects of that event that I was re-infused with creative energy after I received so many notes from you all.  I highly recommend using this activity next time you’re in a bind and need a go-to activity that doesn’t involve much prep or instructions.  You can “Set it and forget it!”….except, be sure to have some crayons and glue handy.

Back To Top