With 2018 coming to a close, we wanted to take a look back at the year. From Arizona to Kenya to the International Space Station, here are 10 of the Project WET Foundation's biggest water education stories of 2018:
1. #AstroFriday: To the International Space Station and Back Again: Astronaut Richard (Ricky) Arnold, a volunteer board member for the Project WET Foundation, was the educator on board the International Space Station for the second half of NASA’s “Year of Education on Station”. Before his launch in March of this year, Ricky answered questions submitted to him by Project WET staff and Project WET USA Network members. While in space, he shared photos of water places that had particular importance to the United States and the world. As part of NASA’s education focus, he completed and filmed lessons that had been prepared by Christa McAuliffe, who was supposed to have been the first teacher in space but was tragically killed in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Ricky’s fellow Board members also contributed to the #AstroFriday stories, with Dr. Alan Rimer writing about water reuse as it relates to the ISS, and Project WET Maryland Coordinator Cindy Etgen shared her experience of watching Ricky launch to ISS from Kyrgyzstan! Finally, we hosted the Astronaut Water Challenge, which asked visitors to compare their water use to that of an astronaut, and to use the information they learned about water conservation to pledge to save water. To date, Challenge participants have pledged to save more than 16,000 gallons of water since Ricky’s launch! Access all the #AstroFriday content on the Out of This World page.
2. Water, Agriculture & Food: Project WET’s newest children’s activity booklet, “Water, Agriculture and Food”, launched on World Water Day this year. The 16-page booklet addresses how and where food is grown, as well as the link between the food we eat and the water we all must share to meet the needs of a growing population. The publication was featured in North Dakota Water magazine in June. Buy your copies on the Project WET Store.
3. Newmont Partners With Project WET: Newmont Mining Corporation became Project WET’s newest corporate partner, collaborating with Project WET to encourage responsible use of water resources through community-based teacher training. The partnership focuses on empowering school teachers and other educators to build community awareness and expertise on how water is used, managed and protected in their respective regions, beginning in Peru and Suriname, where Newmont has mining operations.
4. Levi’s Unzipped Blog Highlights Employee Using Project WET To “Change the World”: Employees at Project WET partner Levi Strauss & Co. continue to adopt Project WET activities as part of their commitment to community and volunteer service. Dominique Durward, a LS&Co. employee in Cape Town, South Africa, connected with a local girls’ empowerment group through her Project WET training and will hold additional workshops with them to build confidence, combat fear and give girls the courage to dream and reach their aspirations. At the White House in 2016, LS&Co. pledged to train 100 percent of their corporate employees about responsible water stewardship using Project WET.
5. U.S. Nonprofit Working in Peru Recognized as WaterStar: Nonprofit organization 33 Buckets focuses on solving two major problems: That 1.8 billion people drink contaminated water, and that 40 percent of water projects ultimately fail. Since earlier this year, 33 Buckets staff and volunteers have been using Clean and Conserve, the educational program that Project WET created in collaboration with Ecolab, to teach about water, sanitation and hygiene. Student team member Zachary Kobza said that “Clean and Conserve has ways of teaching that information that we liked and adapted based on the community we were working with and the materials available.” Learn about other Ecolab WaterStars here.
6. Project WET USA Network Coordinators and Educators Engage Students and Teachers: As usual, in a network that encompasses all 50 U.S. states and trains more than 10,000 teachers to reach hundreds of thousands of students each year, the Project WET USA Network reached educators and students with a wide variety of innovative programming. Here's a small sampling of some of the work they do. Check out this blog post for more!
- Arizona Project WET’s Aqua STEM program includes the Aqua STEM Academy, School Water Audit and Rainwater Harvesting System Design components, offering teacher training and experiential student learning.
- In Tennessee, art teacher Kathryn Vaughn has been using Project WET with her after-school program since 2016. She says that Project WET helps her engage her students in so many ways, since most of them do not spend any (other) time outside: “I can see them enjoying nature and learning through hands-on activities.”
- In Idaho, Project WET Coordinator Jim Ekins is using Project WET as part of two citizen science initiatives and another Project WET Coordinator, Cindy Busche, celebrated 10 years of Project WET with a community water festival that engaged 200 people with STEM activities such as hydraulic rockets, pipe mazes, filter-building and water testing. We also said fond farewells to several retiring PWUSA Coordinators.
7. Articulate Features Astronaut Water Challenge on E-Learning Heroes: Two years after receiving an Articulate 4 Good grant to use Articulate’s E-Learning software to train partners, network members and the public, Project WET was featured on E-Learning Heroes for the Astronaut Water Challenge. Project WET International Program Manager Allison Howe shared the story of how the Challenge was designed.
9. George H. W. Bush and Project WET: After the death of our 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush, Project WET Foundation President and CEO Dennis Nelson shared a personal remembrance. In short, Bush’s election—and, by extension, his selection of Federal agency appointees—enabled Project WET to become the organization it is today: "Citizens, journalists and historians will determine how George H. W. Bush will ultimately be viewed. As for me, I will remember our 41st President as the leader whose appointees enabled the launch of Project WET and brought interactive water education to all 50 U.S. states and around the world."
New Project WET International Host Institutions Create Innovative Programs: Some of Project WET’s newest international partners are working on engaging programs that fight poverty, address stigma, improve solid waste management and more, all while using Project WET activities and methods:8.
- In Kenya, the Giselle Foundation is working on an innovative program that combines water, sanitation and hygiene education with solid waste management and economic empowerment, improving the lives of the thousands of people who live in the Obunga slums on the edge of Lake Victoria, in Kisumu, Kenya.
- In Pakistan, for World Water Day, Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) conducted a total of 10 awareness-raising activities, encouraging participants to take action on an individual basis to save water and encourage water conservation in others. The REEDS team also launched a tree planting campaign with the goal of enhancing biodiversity. Later in the year, REEDS adopted an Interactive Theater approach to make their water stewardship programs more inclusive.
10. Water Strategy Expert Joins the Project WET Foundation Board of Directors: In December, Will Sarni, a global thought leader on water strategy and innovation, joined the Project WET Foundation Board of Directors. The founder and CEO of Water Foundry, which advises companies on water-related risks and invests in digital water technologies that address water scarcity and quality issues, Will became the ninth member of the Board of Directors. Tom Cooper, Project WET Foundation Board Chair and Senior Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Lam Research Corporation, said of Will joining the Board: “Will Sarni is an internationally recognized water sustainability expert known for his ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and practical solutions for solving the complex water issues facing our world. We are absolutely thrilled to have him join us as a board member, and we look forward to having Will’s help in furthering our mission of educating the world about water.”
To enable the Project WET Foundation to educate more people about water in 2019, please make a donation today. Your funds will be used to train educators, develop water education resources, organize water education events and further build Project WET's network of water education experts in more than 70 countries around the world. Thank you for your support!
The Project WET Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (EIN: 20-0281441) and has been awarded the 2018 Platinum Seal of Transparency by Guidestar. All or part of your gift may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution. Please check with your tax advisor.