Mary Ann Van Osdell, Remy, Carol B. | 10/16/2009 6:05:23 PM
FARMERVILLE, La. – A youth wetland camp in Union Parish Oct. 10-11 included a variety of activities to let 4-H’ers know the importance of clean water in an area affected by the gradually diminishing Sparta Aquifer.
The students hung duck boxes, filtered water, made a water cycle bracelet and had a watershed exercise with M&M candies, said Carol Remy, LSU AgCenter agent. The event took place at Lake D’Arbonne State Park.
Rosina Philippi with America’s Wetland Conservation Corps (AWCC) explained that Lake D’Arbonne is a source of revenue for the area. “People come here for vacation,” she said, explaining to the students they need to keep it clean.
“Unclean water messes with our life, too, not just the animals’,” said Reva Carpenter, 15, a student at Farmerville High School. “We have to watch what we put in our water. Water gives life to fish.”
In the M&M exercise conducted by Sian Gains, also of AWCC, candy was spread out on a table like a river and each color stood for a different property. Students removed the red that indicated phosphates, yellow for pesticides, orange for oil and grease and peanuts for toxins. That left the blue, brown and some green – representing water, soil and some nitrates. Goldfish snacks also were thrown into the mix and the food chain of fish was explained.
Another lesson involved filtering dirty water in a plastic 1-liter soda bottle. The students were given leaves, gravel, sand and a coffee filter to see which worked best to clean the water.
“Wetlands work to act as a filter for pollutants,” Philippi explained. “You can build a filter with a shirt or weeds if you are ever stranded.”
Each student made a bracelet after being given a string with spinners representing different elements to depict “your journey as a water droplet,” Gains said. The elements were clouds, lakes, oceans, rivers, soil and plants.
Carpenter said she is going to calculate her water usage after receiving a lesson on conserving water.
Union is one of 15 parishes dependent on the Sparta Aquifer. “Reduce the use” is the mantra of a water conservation campaign spearheaded by the LSU AgCenter in north Louisiana.
AWCC staff from Caddo, Orleans, Plaquemines and Washington parishes helped with the event.
Mary Ann Van Osdell
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture