Water Palooza Visits Einstein Charter School’s Sherwood Forest Campus

November 24, 2016

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Michael Quamme, chair of the Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) Community Service Project

Photo courtesy of Michael Quamme.

Photo courtesy of Michael Quamme.


Michael Quamme, project engineer at Apex Engineering Group (Fargo, N.D.), has served as a chair of the Water Palooza since 2013 and the service project since 2014. He has been a member of the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, Va.) and North Dakota Water Environment Association (NDWEA) since 2013. He previously worked as a graduate research assistant at North Dakota State University (Fargo) and currently is president of the NDWEA Executive Committee as well as vice-chair of the North Dakota Water YP’s committee.

As most WEFTEC® attendees were just beginning to arrive in New Orleans for the 89th annual conference, members of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) already were hard at work.

Volunteers educate about water

SYPC volunteers led students at the Einstein Charter Schools’ (New Orleans) Sherwood Forest Campus through a series of educational hands-on and demonstrative water activities during the fourth annual Water Palooza Education Day. Nearly 400 first-through-fifth-grade students learned about the local water environment, the value of water, water initiatives in their community, and actions they can take to help protect local water resources.

A total of 12 organizations, including local nonprofits as well as public and private companies, consultants, and manufacturers, coming from as far away as San Francisco participated. The organizations came together to host booths and activities for the students with the goal of educating the next generation about one of the world’s most important resources: water.

Before students participated in the day’s activities, Carol Kinzer, SYPC Water Palooza co-chair and Caroline Pakenham, WEF staff member, greeted classes gathered in the courtyard. Kinzer got everyone started by testing the students’ knowledge of their local water environment. She also discussed why water is so important. Pakenham got the students energized by cheering for the Water Palooza. She gave a loud shout of “water” followed by a roaring response of “palooza” from the students.

Cedric Grant, executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, speaks with fourth graders about the importance of water at the fourth annual Water Palooza education day. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools (New Orleans).

Cedric Grant, executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, speaks with fourth graders about the importance of water at the fourth annual Water Palooza education day. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools (New Orleans).

In the afternoon, Cedric Grant, executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, gave a special greeting to students. He explained why understanding and protecting water is such an important issue for everyone living in New Orleans and how such events as Water Palooza help prepare them to be future leaders in the water community.

Engaging students on water topics

Heather Niemec of Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Agricultural Center’s Young Wetlands Program, speaks with third graders about Louisiana’s lines of defense from storm surge. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

Heather Niemec of Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Agricultural Center’s Young Wetlands Program speaks with third-graders about Louisiana’s lines of defense from storm surges. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

In groups, students had 90 minutes to visit 12 booths with their teachers. Students had the opportunity to engage in such topics as the water cycle, what not to flush, how to New Orleans is protected from storm surges, how pollution affects waterbodies, where stormwater and wastewater travel, how soil and plants filter stormwater, and buoyancy. They also answered the question, “What does water mean to you?” through words or drawings on posters. These posters were given to the school to remind students what they learned during the event.

Jennifer Roberts from the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans has third grade students spin a wheel to take the journey of a raindrop. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

Jennifer Roberts from the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans has third-grade students spin a wheel to trace the journey of a raindrop. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

Staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges) taught students about the water cycle through a song and dance. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

Staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges) taught students about the water cycle through a song and dance. Photo courtesy of Einstein Charter Schools.

Generous donations from sponsors and donors allows SYPC to host Water Palooza at no cost to the school or to participating organizations to eliminate any barriers to engaging local students about water. The 2016 Water Palooza was hosted by WEF and the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, and organized by the SYPC Water Palooza planning committee. Other organizations that participated this year include New Orleans City Park, AECOM (Los Angeles) and Parsons (Pasadena, Calif.) joint venture, Brown and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.), CDM Smith (Englewood, Colo.), Duperon Corp. (Saginaw, Mich.), Jefferson Parish (La.), the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (New Orleans), the Youth Wetlands Education and Outreach Program of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (Baton Rouge), the Greater New Orleans Section of the Society of Women Engineers (Chicago), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges.

WEF SYPC volunteers also hosted a WEF Community Service Project during WEFTEC 2016. Read more about this project in the WEF Highlights article, “WEF Volunteers Get Noticed at New Orleans City Hall.”

— Michael Quamme, Students and Young Professionals Committee

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