Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Groundwater Foundation National Conference Workshop}

The Groundwater Foundation is turning 30 this year!  This is an exciting time, as we not only look back on all that has been accomplished, but we also look forward to see what more can be done.  To celebrate our 30th anniversary, The Groundwater Foundation's National Conference will be held in our hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.  In conjunction with our National Conference we are holding free workshops to further our mission of educating people and inspiring action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.

This week Frannie attended a groundwater training event with four outstanding Girl Scouts!  These four Girl Scouts will be co-leading a free, extracurricular educators' workshop at The Groundwater Foundation's National Conference.

What:  Soak It All Up: Utilizing Groundwater Education Activities in Extracurricular Settings
When: October 20, 2015 from 1-3pm
Where: The Embassy Suites, 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska
Who is Invited: Troop leaders and extracurricular educators of all kinds (not from Nebraska?  No worries, everyone is welcome!)

The workshop will discuss the importance of groundwater education, feature Girl Scouts showcasing some of The Groundwater Foundation's youth education activities, a groundwater game, and demonstrations of The Groundwater Foundation's free, educational apps.

Attendees will receive a free education kit including:

Come see Girl Scouts leading activities you can do with your troop!  
Learn more and get signed up here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Wetlands}

This week Frannie wants to learn about wetlands and she wants you to come along on her discovery!

Wetlands are an important part of the water cycle and perform many different functions for water, wildlife, and people.  The Environmental Protection Agency says wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present at or near the surface of the soil either all year or at different times during the year, including the growing season.  Wetlands look very different depending on where you live, and are called a number of different things - wetlands, bogs, marshes, and swamps are just a few examples.

Wetlands support very unique plant and animal life.  Because the soil in a wetland is saturated or covered with water for different amounts of time throughout the year, only certain kinds of plants can grow.  Plants that only grow partially or fully submerged in water are called hydrophytes.  Cattails, water lilies, reeds, and duckweed are just a few examples, can you think of more?

The unique environment of a wetland provides habitat to a diverse array of animals.  More than one-third of the nation's threatened and endangered species live only in wetlands (EPA).  Wetlands are home to alligators, shellfish, otters, and many species of birds, fish, and mammals.  See how many species you can name!

Wetlands also act as filters, cleaning water that fish, like Frannie, and amphibians live and grow in.  You can think of a wetland like a coffee filter that allows water to pass through but not the coffee grounds.  When runoff (water that flows over the land to surface streams, rivers, and lakes) travels through a wetland, a lot of sediment, nutrients, and perhaps pollutants the water was carrying are absorbed by the wetland.

Wetlands are also very important in preventing floods, they act like big sponges.  When it rains a lot, wetlands absorb the rainfall and fall slowly release it.  Some of this water seeps into the ground and becomes groundwater!  This is very important in protecting our homes, schools, and other buildings we use.

Wetlands are also used by people for recreation - for birdwatching, hunting, or just taking a hike.

Find out more about wetlands here.  Try to find all the words in the Water Word Hunt below!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Awesome Aquifer Kits}

Frannie is so excited to tell you all about the Awesome Aquifer Kit from The Groundwater Foundation.  The Awesome Aquifer Kit is a fun, reusable model you can use to see how groundwater works!  This model also comes in handy when working towards your "Let's Keep It Clean" and "Ask Me About Groundwater" patches.

The Awesome Aquifer Kit includes:
  • Activity Guide with vocabulary terms defined, an explanation of what groundwater is and why it is important, and instructions for six advanced groundwater demonstrations.
  • Gravel to represent fractured rock, gravel, and soil particles underneath the earth's surface where groundwater is stored.
  • Sand to represent the land surface and a different kind of soil water moves through.
  • Modeling clay can be used to create a confined aquifer, an aquifer that is bounded between layers of substances like clay or dense rock, through which water cannot move.
  • A nylon hose represents a well and a syringe functions as the pump.
  • Panty hose and a rubber band create the screen cap for your well to prevent sediment and rocks from being pumped with your well water.
  • A soap pump can be utilized as a second well.
  • Food coloring is used to represent a contaminant, so you can easily observe its movement through your aquifer.
  • A small measuring cup is used to pump your contaminated water into, you will then use the activated carbon (charcoal) provided to "clean" your contaminated water.  The filter paper provided will be placed over the small measuring cup and rubber banded to allow the water to pass through, you can then recharge your aquifer with your clean water.  Recharge is water added to a groundwater aquifer.  For example, when rainwater seeps into the ground.

There are lots of different things you can learn by using the Awesome Aquifer Kit!  Use the kit to:
  • Create the physical parts of an aquifer and learn groundwater vocabulary.
  • Recognize groundwater and surface water's connection.
  • Discuss if groundwater is a renewable resource.
  • Investigate porosity (capacity to hold water) of different soil types.
  • Measure how fast water moves.
  • Observe groundwater's role in the water cycle.
  • Learn about and observe how contamination affects an aquifer.
  • Utilize clean up strategies to treat your contaminated aquifer.
Learn one way to use your Kit with our handy how-to video.  Check out Frannie's previous post about the Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival to see what students learned with the Awesome Aquifer Kits!  

Use the Awesome Aquifer Kit to teach your troop about groundwater!  Order your Kit today!

Has your troop already used the Awesome Aquifer Kits?  Share your experiences!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Reusing your pet's water}

This week Frannie is going to show a simple step you can take to reuse and reduce your water usage!

Frannie likes to get her pet fresh water everyday, but she doesn't like to pour the old water down the drain.  It seems like such a waste!  That's when Frannie had a great idea: she could use the old water from her pet's water dish to water her houseplants!

This is a simple step you can take to start saving water.  By reusing this water, you will be turning on your faucet less and consequently reducing the amount of water you use!

There are a lot of simple ways you can save water around your house.  Here are a couple examples Frannie has come up with:

Use less water when you cook, you only need enough water to submerge your food.

Reuse your bath towel to cut down on laundry.

Want more fun ways to reduce your water usage?  Watch for The Groundwater Foundation's 30 by 30 phone application for Apple and Android products!  This water-tracking app will give you even more tips to help you reduce your water usage and in the process reduce your water usage by 30 gallons a day for 30 days!

These are just a few examples that Frannie has thought of, can you think of more ways to save water around your house?  Share your ideas here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {"Let's Keep It Clean" Program Series - Ambassador}

This is the last week in the "Let's Keep It Clean" program series.  This final post will be dedicated to Ambassador level activities!

Friendly reminder: to earn the patches shown above, complete two activities from the booklet to earn your Ask Me About Groundwater patch.  Get inspired and do more to earn your Let's Keep It Clean patch.

The Ambassador level focuses on fostering leadership skills and many of the activities are great first steps to potential Gold Award activities.  Many activities featured in the Ambassador booklet are independent, research-based activities.  Initially, girls can research their local groundwater and surface water resources to learn about the quality and quantity, and are then challenged to look to the future to foresee if their community faces any potential issues.  Girls can also research point and nonpoint sources of pollution, as well as legislation including - the Clean Water Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Ambassadors have a variety of activities to choose from after they have done their initial investigations.  These activities include - problem solving hypothetical scenarios, interviewing a local leader, researching further into a local water issue, or learning about their local watershed.  Girls can also do activities aimed at protecting source water: planning a Source Water Protection, Wellhead Protection, Groundwater Management, or similar type of plan for your community; making a Contaminant Source Inventory to identify potential water contamination risks.

Finally, girls are asked to take action!  Ambassadors can help their community become a Groundwater Guardian or identify a Groundwater Guardian Green Site.  Both of these are programs through The Groundwater Foundation that recognize efforts to protect groundwater.  A Groundwater Guardian is a community that takes actions to protect groundwater and educate others about groundwater resources.  A Groundwater Guardian Green Site is a business, school, golf course, or park that incorporates environmentally-friendly practices into their turf management.  Girls can also volunteer their time with a local environmental group - order the booklet to get great ideas for Gold Award activities!

Frannie will explain how you can help your local community become a Groundwater Guardian Community.  There are Groundwater Guardian communities all over the country.  Click here to see the many benefits of being a Groundwater Guardian.  Each community has a team of dedicated individuals that work to protect groundwater.  Check out the Groundwater Guardian Profiles Directory to see if there is a team in your area and to find out what kind of actions are being taken across the country!


1.  Form your team!  Team members should represent your community, try to get individuals involved from a variety of backgrounds.  Frannie encourages getting representatives from each category:

-Business and/or Agriculture
-Local Government

This helps ensure that stakeholders, people who are interested or will be affected by the Groundwater Guardian team's actions, have a say in the actions.

It may be helpful to start by contacting your local Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Natural Resources.  See if you can get an individual from one of these agencies to work with you, they may have contacts from the different categories that would be interested in joining your team as well.

2.  Next, you will complete the  Annual Entry Package, this includes

-Entry Form
-Team List
-Result-Oriented Activity Plan Forms
-Administrative Fee

The Groundwater Guardian Profiles Directory is a great place to find inspiration for your Result-Oriented Activities.  You can always contact The Groundwater Foundation at if you need help filling out any forms.

3.  Submit a Progress Report by August 31.  This report shares information on the progress of each of a team's activities.

4.  Once your community is designated, use the Groundwater Guardian logo in local publications and media opportunities to share your success locally.

5.  Celebrate Groundwater Guardian accomplishments at The Groundwater Foundation's national conference.  The conference is a fantastic opportunity to honor and meet individuals from other communities working toward the same goal!

Want to see more Ambassador activities?  Click here.  Are you in Nebraska?  Check with your area's Juliette's Boutique!

Have you done an Ambassador activity and would like to share it?  Click here!

This wraps up Frannie's "Let's Keep It Clean" program series.  Check in next Wednesday for a new water-wise activity with Frannie!

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