Marion County Teachers Awarded Grants for Water Resources Education Projects

News Release

Four Marion 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 Marion County to the strong partnership with Marion County Schools. Jacqua Ballas, science program specialist for Marion 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 Marion County awardees are:

* Mary Blanchette, *Dunnellon Elementary School*, will receive $592. Students will test water from the Rainbow River and learn how to protect springs.

* Jill Stephens, *North Marion High School*, will receive $3,000. Students will compare the water chemistry and water quality of the Silver and Rainbow rivers.

* Greg McManus, *Ocala Springs Elementary School*, will receive $807. Students will build a water purification device to be entered in a competition.

* Lindy Batten, *Shady Hill Elementary School*, will receive $1,050. Students will construct model landscapes that demonstrate proper water drainage areas and irrigation practices in agricultural, recreational and urban environments.

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"/publications":/publications/.