Students Soak Up Knowledge at Annual Water Festival

Article by: Louise Jett, L&C Media Services,

GODFREY – Eighteen local fifth-grade classes explored interactive booths focusing on the importance of water during the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center’s 17th Annual Water Festival, Friday, Sept. 27.

Since the educational experience was first held in 2002, more than 12,000 students and 130 teachers from 40 schools in about a dozen counties and two states have participated in the Water Festival.

“We’re so happy to be able to offer this experience to our local fifth graders year after year,” said Allison Rhanor, environmental educator at Lewis and Clark Community College’s NGRREC℠. “After 17 years, we’re getting college students volunteering at the event they attended when they were in fifth grade, which is pretty special.”

L&C NGRREC℠ first launched the Water Festival after discovering a lack in water stewardship education, specifically in elementary schools.

“I think it’s a fantastic day for the kids,” said Jersey Middle School Teacher Kit Crawford, a Water Festival veteran. “They learn about water conservation and get to do some hands-on fishing. They love it.”

This year, 22 informative stations were set up on the back of L&C’s Godfrey Campus, and classes rotated from station to station during the five-hour long event. From Ed the Pelican to canoe rides, students enjoyed soaking up the knowledge and entertainment.

“It’s fun,” said Darrius Shropshire, a fifth-grade student from Estell Kampmeyer Elementary. “You learn about things like recycling and the importance of water.”

Some students at Water Festival were teachers, too. Swarovski Waterschool Upward Bound students taught fifth graders how to calculate their own water footprints.

“The water you use is your water footprint,” said Sinaya Bruce, an Alton High School student. “You never realize how many things need water until you crunch the numbers.”

“You don’t notice how much water you use until you write it down,” added her classmate, Tianna Grant.

The organizations involved in the planning and running of Water Festival also include the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Institute of Godfrey, North Elementary School and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Water Festival is entirely funded by generous sponsorships, and the event is totally free for participants.

To learn more, contact Rhanor at

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠)

Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them. The center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities. To learn more about NGRREC, visit

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