Youth Water Summit Draws Nearly 500 High School Students to Coeur d’Alene
May 17, 2019
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — May 17, 2019 — Hundreds of high school students will bring their water science research to North Idaho College on Tuesday, May 21, as part of the Youth Water Summit. The sixth annual event is the culmination of the Confluence Project — a yearlong, interactive water education initiative organized by the University of Idaho and several Kootenai County-area organizations.
“We’re getting kids outside and encouraging hands-on, place-based learning,” said Marie Schmidt, community water outreach specialist at University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene. “Students are meeting experts in the field, and we’re introducing them to STEM fields they otherwise may not think of as career choices like fisheries, hydrology and snow science.”
Close to 500 students from 10 North Idaho high schools will share their projects at the summit. The students select any topic relating to water, as long as it connects to Inland Northwest issues. Students conduct background research, collect data, and present their findings to peers and a panel of judges.
“It is mindboggling what these students come up with,” Schmidt said. “Last year, there were some projects that stopped me in my tracks – they were so cool – from an artistic rendering of an aquatic invasive species to a working model of a dam.”
Ahead of the summit, the participating students attend field trips with the Confluence Project, a partnership between the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, IdaH20 and U of I.
“The Confluence Project is a model program for engaging our youth in finding solutions to the environmental challenges we face today,” said Dennis Brueggemann, Kootenai Environmental Alliance volunteer. “The curriculum provides much-needed educational resources for teachers looking to provide knowledge and analytical experiences about water, climate change and other environmental issues, both in the classroom and out in the field.”
The 2018-19 Confluence Project efforts are funded by Alliance Data, the Kootenai County Aquifer Protection District, the Coeur d’Alene Casino, the Rotary Club of Coeur d’Alene and the New Belgium Brewing Company.
“We all have a shared interest in connecting young people to the natural sciences to ensure we have an educated workforce and a community that is engaged in conversations on our environment,” Schmidt said.
Work by the current cohort began last fall, when students visited local lakes and streams to conduct water quality tests. Over the winter, they snowshoed at nearby ski resorts to measure snowpack. Between field trips, lessons on the local watershed were incorporated in the classroom.
The summit is from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at Boswell Hall, Christianson Gym and the Edminster Student Union Building on the NIC campus. In addition to student presentations, water science professionals will share their perspective, including Coeur d’Alene Tribe Natural Resource Department Director Caj Matheson and National Weather Service Forecaster Robin Fox. The public is invited to attend any portion of the event. A complete schedule for the day can be found at bit.ly/2019YouthWaterSummit
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu