AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

April 27, 2018

Water Awareness Festival is Big Hit with Students, Teachers;
Focused on Elk River watershed, event supported by variety of local groups.

PINEVILLE, Mo. — Over the course of two days, 315 McDonald County fifth grade students gathered at the McDonald County Fair Grounds in Anderson to participate in a hands-on Water Awareness Festival focused on the Elk River watershed.

Environmental awareness, and how water quality and quantity affect us personally, locally, and globally were the focus of activities. Students rotated learning stations that included Ground Water Flow Model, Environmental Landscapes, Stream Table, Building Your Own Watershed, Stream Health, Riparian Corridor, Water Cycle, and Water and You.

Jennifer Lutes, agriculture business specialist at University of Missouri McDonald County Extension, organized the festival.

"The participating children learned a lot, they were enthusiastic and energetic," said Lutes. "This annual event is one of our most important."

The festival would not be possible without the support of local businesses and volunteers according to Lutes. A wide variety of groups volunteered, including the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Roaring River State Park, Newton-McDonald County Soil and Water Conservation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Neosho Fish Hatchery, Missouri Stream Team, and Future Farmers of America high school students.

MU Extension staff from the 4-H, nutrition, and natural resource and engineering programs also participated in learning station activities, including a new one called "Water and You" conducted MU Extension Nutrition Associate Eden Stewart.

"Human bodies are composed mostly of water by weight," said Stewart. "Therefore, clean and plenty of water is essential for human health and nature."

McDonald County teachers found the event worthwhile, too.

"Love the Enviroscape, one of the kids' favorites," said one teacher on the anonymously administered teacher survey.

"They [the kids] love to see the real-life animals," wrote another teacher.

In response to being asked whether the material presented coincided with other activities teachers are using, all teachers agreed that it did.

"This is why the Water Festival focuses on fifth grade; we are helping teachers reinforce the curriculum they are covering in class," Lutes said.

Participating students were given a quiz at the end of the day, followed by a magic show with the Fishin' Magicians, a delightful duo who perform their show on water quality. Thanks to a generous donation by Tyson Foods Inc. to The Nature Conservancy's Western Ozarks Waters Initiative, the Conservancy was able to bring the Fishing Magicians to this year's Water Festival.

While a date has not yet been set, Lutes expects to continue the Water Festival next year and beyond.

"Kids love it, and teachers love it. As long as we continue having volunteers and community support, we are thrilled to offer this event," Lutes said.

For more information, contact Lutes at the McDonald County MU Extension office by phone at

(417) 223-4775 or email her at

More photos avaliable at:

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Jennifer Lutes

Ground Water Flow Model station with Bob Schultheis

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Jennifer Lutes

Water and You Station with Eden Stewart

Photo available for following caption Photo credit: Jennifer Lutes

Riparian Corridor Station Photo

Source: Jennifer Lutes, (417) 223-4775

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