Students Learn From District Professionals

Mary Margaret Hull teaching classLeft: Mary Margaret Hull, District lead youth education coordinator, simulates the sounds of a thunderstorm during a “Rain Game” exercise with Countryside Montessori Elementary School students. Right: Countryside Montessori Elementary School students learn about the hydrologic cycle.

District staff educated more than 1,000 students about water resources, conservation and water management careers at this year’s Great American Teach-In.

The Great American Teach-In is part of the larger National Education Association’s American Education Week, which occurs annually in November. American Education Week spotlights the importance of providing every student in America with a quality public education and recognizes the need for everyone to do his or her part in making public schools great.

“Teachers and students benefit from the knowledge and information shared when District staff make classroom visits,” said Mary Margaret Hull, District lead youth education coordinator. “Through hands-on classroom presentations, District staff can inspire students to learn more about water resources and to become environmental leaders at home, at school and in their community.”

A variety of District staff including executives, engineers, scientists, land managers, field staff and communications professionals participated in the event. Presentation topics included the water cycle, watersheds and plant and animal habitats.

Shelley Thornton, District Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program professional engineer, and Stephanie Powers, District SWIM staff environmental scientist, teamed up to visit two schools and made a total of eight presentations. At their first stop, Seminole Heights Elementary, they discussed water quality and the negative impacts that oil and greases have on our water bodies. They also visited Stewart Middle School to discuss a cooperative funding project between the District and the Hillsborough County School District, which is currently under construction at the school. Thornton and Powers explained the shoreline restoration project and how vegetative plantings along the Hillsborough River shoreline will help remove pollutants from the stormwater and improve water quality.

“I was excited about the opportunity to involve the kids in the project and help give them a sense of community,” said Thornton. “These types of activities help promote environmental stewardship.”

Lou Kavouras, District deputy executive director, visited two third-grade classes and one fourth-grade class at Sessums Elementary School in Hillsborough County. The classes participated in a discussion about the hydrologic cycle and the importance of water to every living thing.

“I was amazed at what the students already knew about water conservation and water quality,” said Kavouras. “It was gratifying to learn that many of the teachers are using our water resources education materials in the classroom.”

The District’s youth education team provides training and coordinates opportunities for staff to make presentations at schools, participate as experts for student and teacher field trips and help work at youth-related events within the District. A youth education team training event will be offered in each District service office in March. If you are a District staff member interested in joining the youth education team, please contact Mary Margaret Hull at ext. 4774.