4-H2O wins national award

By Diane Palmer

Children participating in the 4-H20 program

Clemson’s 4-H2O program has won a 2005 Youth Environmental Award, sponsored by the Natural Resources Conversation Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the National 4-H Council.

The 4-H2O Pontoon Classroom is a novel, community-supported, field-based program that teaches children about water quality, water as a resource and the environment. Partners include state parks, K-12 schools, universities, community associations, state agencies and power and water companies.

“4-H2O is a great project that can be implemented by other states,” said Rick Willey, Clemson Extension 4-H natural resources specialist and program leader. “This program fosters a partnership for local communities and agencies to educate children about the importance of water conservation and water quality.”

Willey credits the award to the work of local Extension agents and volunteers. Co-facilitators are Barbara Speziale, associate dean for summer programs and outreach, and Newberry County 4-H Extension agent Darren Atkins. The program has reached 1,100 students directly and 2,000 more through teacher training.

“4-H2O is remarkable in that the children use professional scientific equipment – the same equipment we use for field research,” said Speziale. “This emphasizes to the children that they are doing real research and that they can become scientists.”

For more information contact: Rick Willey, (864) 656-3090, rwlly@clemson.edu or http://www.clemson.edu/waterquality/4H2O/.