June 4, 2015 (Bee Cave, TX) Managers of the Rainwater Revival school grant program were happily overwhelmed with 13 terrific grant applications from Hill Country schools this year. Though all projects had merit, the three judges made difficult choices and picked six deserving schools to receive $1,000 awards each.
“Judging by the quantity and quality of proposals for rainwater catchment and water conservation projects this year, it’s clear that teachers and schools are putting a priority on helping students learn the value of water as an important shared resource,” said Karen Ford, who leads the Rainwater Revival event for the Hill Country Alliance.
The Rainwater Revival is a daylong educational event that takes place every fall amidst a festival-like atmosphere at a Hill Country venue. It brings together knowledgeable speakers, demonstrations, products, music, food and children’s activities to help citizens and businesses learn how to harvest rainwater for beneficial use.
At each year’s Revival, the ever-popular rain barrel art auction generates funds for the school grant program. The art barrels are 55-gallon drums turned in to functional works of art by Hill Country artists and high school art classes who volunteer their time and talent. Since it started in 2010, the Rainwater Revival art barrel auction and grant program have funded 19 schools for rainwater capture and water conserving projects.
“Designing, constructing and maintaining water conservation projects brings together math, science, economics and an early appreciation for conserving our precious natural resources,” said Christy Muse, executive director for Hill Country Alliance. “We are so grateful to know these teachers, parents, garden clubs and others are dedicated to teaching our young people how to capture and use rainwater and why it’s important to know and care about water.”
2015 grants were awarded to:
Blanco Middle School (Blanco ISD): Seventh grade science and ecology teacher, Pam Meier, submitted the winning request to fund a 2,500 gallon rainwater catchment tank that will be used to water the school’s gardens. The project will benefit all 280 students in the middle school as the gardens provide locally grown food for the school cafeteria, and it will enhance learning in math, science, art, and language arts.
Clifton Career & Development High School (Austin ISD): This high school offers career and technical training for special education students, and their winning project to capture rain with a new 2,500 gallon tank will become part of the Horticulture curriculum managed by teacher, Clayton Vader.
Dawson Elementary (Austin ISD): Fourth grade teacher, Chelsa Capers, plans to bring rainwater harvesting to the school/community gardens on their campus to the benefit of all 345 students who will receive numerous science lessons involving the water cycle, natural resources, and conservation.
Dripping Springs High School (Dripping Springs ISD): High school junior, Elena Lundeen, is the driver behind this project to place a rainwater catchment tank inside the school’s 6,000 square foot, open air courtyard to water trees, raised beds and grass, thus reducing the school’s usage of expensive treated water for plant life and promoting sustainable technologies.
Magnolia Montessori for All (Austin charter school): The school’s substantial gardens will be irrigated by a rainwater harvesting system funded by the grant. Garden coordinator, Nashielly Stein, will help the school’s 300 students, who work in the gardens daily, with lessons in science, nutrition, art, the importance of water conservation, and reducing potable water use.
Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls ISD): Students participating in the High School Horticulture Program will design, implement and operate a rainwater harvesting system to support the organic and aquaponic growing systems in the school’s greenhouses. Mike Chesnut, MFHS Horticulture teacher, will oversee the project.
A full copy of the 2015 winning grant requests and information on past winners can be found at: www.rainwaterrevival.com.
The Rainwater Revival is an annual celebration of collection, conservation and common sense. The free event is sponsored by the Hill Country Alliance, and the next event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. For more information: www.rainwaterrevival.com.
The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country. Visit us at www.hillcountryalliance.org.