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Local 4-H staff, teens offer national water quality program

‘Water Connects Us All’ available via online instruction or kits for curbside pick up

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – This fall, youth can use critical thinking skills to take part in solving a real-world agriculture and environmental challenge through the 2020 4-H Ag Innovators Experience (4-H AIE) “Water Connects Us All” program.

4-H Teen Teachers learning Water Connects Us All at national training in February.

This challenge includes fun activities that use every-day items to demonstrate how rain gardens, bioswales, saturated buffers and bioreactors protect watersheds and wetlands, and improve water quality in our communities.

“Models of these engineered conservation practices help youth learn how they work in both rural and urban settings,” says Donna Nuger, 4-H Youth Development Educator, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “Our 4-H team can help educators, groups, or families learn how to do these activities and understand how natural ecosystems provide services and affect water quality.”

Earlier this year, Illinois 4-H Teen Teachers and Science Ambassadors – including some from DuPage and Kendall counties – were trained on this national program in order to teach it to youth in their own community.

“In light of current circumstances, these teens adapted and developed a video series to allow teachers, parents, and youth to access the challenge online,” Nuger says. “The videos explore the water, nitrogen and carbon cycles, as well as wetlands, watersheds, ecosystems, and the four demonstrations of engineering practices.”

Additionally, 4-H staff is available to lead lessons via web conferencing tools. They also have created activity kits – available for contactless curbside pick-up in September – with the materials needed to explore this challenge with a class, small group, or your family. Plus, “Water Connects Us All” aligns with Next Generation Science Standards and is easy to modify for various grade levels.

For five years, 4-H Teen Science Ambassador Krish Nangia of Naperville has enjoyed sharing STEM lessons with youth, and he found a special connection to the 2020 4-H AIE topic.

“Many of us take water, a precious resource, for granted,” he says. “I want everyone to understand how water contamination is a big problem in today’s society, and that this problem cannot be solved without working together as a team.”

The environmental connection also was important to fellow 4-H member Sofie Heidrich of Oswego.

“I believe that the youth we teach and reach with these materials have the ability to become mentors themselves and share their knowledge with their families and communities,” she says. “Who knows? They may even come up with other solutions or ways to protect natural resources and the whole planet itself.”

Learn more about this educational opportunity and how to participate this fall at The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience program is an activity presented by National 4-H Council and Bayer that challenges youth to apply STEM skills to real-world issues, encouraging interest in agriculture innovation.

If you will need an accommodation in order to participate, please email Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.


SOURCE: Donna Nuger, 4-H Youth Development Educator, University of Illinois Extension of DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties

WRITER: Rosie Ralston, Publicity Promotion Associate, University of Illinois Extension of DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties

ABOUT 4-H: Illinois 4-H empowers and prepares Illinois youth for success. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois, affecting the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs, groups and short-term programming.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.