Hernando County Teachers Awarded Grants for Water Resources Education Projects

News Release

Five Hernando County teachers were awarded Splash! school grants through the "Southwest Florida Water Management District(Southwest Florida Water Management District)":/.

Mary Margaret Hull, District lead communications coordinator, attributes the effectiveness of the grant program in Hernando County to the strong partnership with Hernando County Schools. Jeff Yungmann, curriculum supervisor for Hernando County Schools, serves as the District's liaison to teachers and helped get the word out.

"The District recognizes the critical role STEM education – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – plays in preparing students for the future," said Hull. "With the help of the grant program, students will learn the importance of protecting and conserving Florida's water resources through STEM-based education projects."

The Hernando County awardees are:

* Leonette Ehlenbeck, *Challenger K-8 School of Science & Mathematics*, will receive the District's K-3 Watershed Resources Box ($500 value). Students will learn about the importance of watersheds through hands-on learning activities.

* Lisa Rae Dickinson, *F.W. Springstead High School*, will receive $2,330. Students will conduct field studies of the Weeki Wachee River watershed and publish their results on the school website.

* Wendi Bellows, *Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology*, will receive $3,000. Students will install a Florida-friendly garden to learn about water conservation, drought-tolerant plants and proper fertilizer use.

* Kara Pirolo, *Weeki Wachee High School*, will receive $1,751. Students will study local watersheds, build a semi-aquatic ecosystem in the classroom and build a model of a retention pond.

In addition to the county's public schools, one private school was awarded a Splash! grant.

* Cathy McAllister, *Hernando Christian Academy*, will receive $1,514. Students will explore wilderness and aquatic areas of the Crystal Springs Preserve, identifying native and non-native plants and conducting water quality tests.

This year 157 Splash! grants were awarded across the District's 16 county region to educate students on Florida's water.

The goal of the Splash! school grant program is to provide teachers with funding to enhance student knowledge of freshwater resources issues. Splash! school grants provide up to $3,000 per school on a reimbursement basis and are available to public, charter and private school teachers.

Past Splash! grant projects include student monitoring of local water quality, environmental field studies and outreach campaigns designed to encourage water conservation.

In addition to Splash! grant funding, the District offers free teacher professional development workshops and curriculum materials. The publications are correlated to Florida's Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards and can also be ordered on the District's website at "WaterMatters.org/publications":/publications/.