Water Leaders of the Future Visit Demo Farm

Media Contact: Julia Stanford, jstanford@northplainsgcd.org or 806-935-6401

Dr. Jourdan Bell describes the partnership between Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension and the North Plains GCD to visiting 4-H2O Ambassadors.

In July, the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District had an excellent opportunity to inform young people from across the state about how we steward water in the Northern Panhandle. With the help of several guest speakers, our team was able to welcome the Texas 4-H2O Ambassadors to the North Plains Groundwater District’s Water Conservation Center (WCC) as a part of their Leadership Academy. The North Plains WCC is one of the only demonstration farms of its kind in the state, so it offers a unique perspective on how water can be managed and conserved. The day consisted of a tour of the WCC including presentations by district staff and guest speakers. The idea was to arm these young adults with information to make them effective ambassadors for water conservation.

The Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program is geared specifically toward high school aged students to help get young people involved in the water industry and conservation. Students learn important skills like leadership, science, technology, and so on within the program during their minimum 40 hours of service over a 12 month period. During this time, students meet professionals within the water industry and may even learn about internships and other future opportunities for themselves. Texas 4-H and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension lead the program with additional support from the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation to bring these opportunities about for the bright young water ambassadors.

Steven Walthour, General Manager, and Julia Stanford, Conservation Outreach Specialist began the day with an introduction to tell the students about the district and its mission. Attendees also participated in a few rounds of a game called Wateria, a game similar to bingo or Loteria, which tests participant’s water knowledge. Students then began the tour of the North Plains WCC farm, visiting different stations, each with a different speaker and focus.

Justin Garrett explains pivot technology and describes his own experiences in farming to the students.

First, the 4-H2O Ambassadors stopped at the east pivot and learned about cotton and pivot technology from Justin Garrett, a local farmer. Garrett also shared some of his own personal story and why water conservation is important to him. Next, the tour progressed to the second station with Stan Spain, the farmer/operator of the WCC. Spain talked about how irrigation efficiency has continued to progress leading to Subsurface Drip Irrigation. The last stop on the tour was with Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, Regional Agronomist. Bell told the Ambassadors about the cooperation between Texas AgriLife and the district, water conservation technologies, and about the various demonstrations happening at the WCC. Once all outdoor presentations were finished, students explored the farm and ask questions of their expert guides.

During lunch, the district presented the ambassadors with our outreach programs and efforts. Julia discussed topics such as Master Irrigator, Water Festivals, Summer Showers, and many others to show students how many different things can be done to raise awareness in the community. Dessert followed the meal in the form of the Edible Aquifer, an activity where students make their own simplified aquifer using various ingredients that can be mixed together to make an ice cream shake. At the end of the day, the 4-H2O Ambassadors lined up with their leaders and our Outreach team for a photo before boarding their bus.

The district greatly enjoyed the Texas 4-H2O Ambassadors visit and appreciate all the work and efforts of organizers and chaperones that made this possible. It was an inspiring experience to see so many bright young minds interested in our precious resources and we hope to welcome 4-H2O Ambassadors to our facilities in the future.

Stan Spain teaches the 4-H2O Ambassadors about SDI and the equipment required to run it.