TEEA Winner in Education 2008 - Nueces River Authority, Uvalde
It is the lifeblood of a region, and that awareness led the Nueces River Authority to mount an ambitious effort to preserve and protect the headwaters of the Frio, Sabinal, Leona, Nueces and West Nueces rivers in South Texas.
The campaign's centerpiece is a 24-square foot scaled relief model of the Nueces River Basin, which educators each year take to fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms in a five-county area. This hands-on approach enables students to run their fingers over the terrain and literally trace the connections between creeks, rivers, and bays. Using food coloring to illustrate pollutants and spray bottles to make rain, they witness how tainted runoff makes its way downstream.
By focusing on "hows and whys" instead of "do's and don'ts," educators deliver a powerful message about personal responsibility. The demonstration is followed by a unique campaign, called Up To You, that asks students to consider how their personal choices impact water quality. The River Authority reinforces its Up To You message through bookmarks, billboards, and bilingual posters. In addition, 64 local river-related businesses hand out mesh litterbags for visitors to use while enjoying the river and riding its current on inner tubes. The campaign is underwritten in part by contributions from local businesses, private groups, and public-government organizations that have a direct interest in water quality.
Since its inception in 2005, the Headwaters Stewardship Campaign has invested approximately $300,000 in pollution-prevention education, and has touched more than 5,000 young lives. The project's success has led two other river authorities in Texas to adopt the program and create their own models. Through this creative educational effort, youngsters of a new generation become empowered and responsible to make better choices that affect the world around them.