4-H WATER GUARDS: NEW CLUB SAVES WATER

Situation: While conservation is essential for the longevity of our water resources, homeowners resist implementing water conservation techniques if they do not have personal motivation and basic technical skills. Today’s youth may not be directly responsible for their home’s water usage, but some are passionate about the environment. The 4-H program supports environmental consciousness in addition to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The 4-H and Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program in Seminole County made environmentally-minded high schoolers a target audience for water conservation. The objectives of the first ever 4-H Water Guards Spin Club were to 1) increase club members’ knowledge on water issues, 2) become a community action leader about water awareness, and 3) quantify gallons saved in the community through their outreach efforts. Methods: The club consisted of eleven juniors and seniors at Lake Howell High School. The club met for an hour once a week for six weeks. Topics included calibrating irrigation systems, rain barrels, micro-irrigation, water quality and other water savings techniques and rationale. First, the Water Guards were tasked with creating a multimedia display, the best of which would receive a $250.00 scholarship and attendance to 4-H Legislature, an event for teens that focuses on civic engagement. Secondly, the Water Guards had to reach as many households as possible to properly set the home’s irrigation timer. The highest water saver would receive a $500.00 scholarship. Results: Out of ten responses, six talked to adults and seven talked to their friends about the environment. The club members submitted blogs, PowerPoints, a personality quiz and videos. The multimedia display winner produced a video on how to calibrate irrigation systems. Seven club members reached thirteen households and saved a total of 242,913 gallons of water annually. The highest water saver saved 83,519 gallons. Conclusions: Ultimately, the club members learned the most efficient ways to save water and developed skills to enact those practices. Their knowledge was put into practice within those six weeks and will hopefully continue throughout their lives. The 2016 4-H Water Guards provided an excellent learning opportunity and launch pad for future water conservation clubs.