Toyota Funding 4-H Film on Water Conservation (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

SAN ANTONIO ­ The 4-H2O for the Alamo program in Bexar County is onee of the educational initiatives featured in a new film about water conservation in Texas being produced by National 4-H Council and funded by Toyota, according to project coordinators.

“The film will showcase what 4-H members throughout the state are doing to conserve water and to inspire other 4-H member and non-member youth to do the same,” said Tara Wheeler, national project manager-curriculum for National 4-H Council, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md.

Wheeler said the film will be completed within the next few months and will have a finished length of five to 10 minutes. She added that while the film’s content is targeted at the middle school-level, young people at higher and lower grade levels also will be able to benefit from seeing it.

“The film is highlighting activities related to the 4-H2O Community Project supported by Toyota and 4-H, and 4-H2O for the Alamo in Bexar County is an example of this important national educational initiative,” she said. “The film’s content will address the need for water conservation throughout Texas and will include interviews with people who have chosen careers relating to environmental stewardship, so kids can learn about jobs involving environmental responsibility.”

The film will end with a “call to action” for young viewers to make changes in their communities by addressing local water issues and concerns, she added. It will be posted on the National 4-H website, http://www.4-h.org, and also will be shown to 4-H members and other young people at schools and in community venues nationwide.

According to the National 4-H Council, 4-H2O Community Project initiatives nationwide have been made possible by a $2 million commitment from Toyota. The initiative’s goal is to involve youth in water quality and conservation while increasing interest in the sciences.

“4-H takes great pride in its environmental education efforts, and we are pleased to be partnering with Toyota on this great program,” said Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO of the National 4-H Council.”Thanks to Toyota’s support, the 4-H2O Community Projects empower youth to protect and conserve the valuable resources in their communities, while making science exciting, accessible and relevant to their lives.”

According to National 4-H Council data, last year 4-H2O Community Projects reached more than 27,000 youth in Texas, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New York City and West Virginia.

Project activities in Texas, which include 4-H2O for the Alamo, are being implemented through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, an agency of the Texas A&M University System. AgriLife Extension administers more than 1,650 clubs statewide, with a combined club membership and participation of more than 634,000 youth 9-19 years old.

Recently, San Antonio took center stage when an out-of-state production crew came to Carl Wanke Elementary on the city’s north side to shoot footage of high-school-age 4-H leaders presenting water education instruction to students as part of the 4-H2O for the Alamo program, a Texas-based component of the national initiative.

“Five older members from different 4-H clubs in the county provided after-school instruction and presented science demonstrations to third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Wanke,” said Greg Myles, AgriLife Extension agent for 4-H and youth development for Bexar County .”They taught the students about evaporation, condensation, precipitation, surface runoff, watershed protection and other topics related to water conservation and quality.”

Myles said the 4-H2O for the Alamo program provides “hands-on inquiry-based learning” to engage youth in understanding the importance of protecting and conserving limited water resources, especially since much of the state is drought-prone.

“Our goal is to make area youth aware of the importance of those watersheds that provide drinking water, support agriculture and provide recreational opportunities for residents of Bexar County and the rest of the state,” Myles said.

Morgan Taplin, 16, a member of Dover Connection 4-H and junior at Judson High School, was among the 4-H leaders providing instruction. She used a “rainfall simulator” built by AgriLife Extension to demonstrate surface-water runoff and show how water enters watershed areas during the water cycle.

“It was fun to use the simulator and show the younger kids something new,” Taplin said. Of course, I was learning (about water conservation) at the same time.”

While in San Antonio, the production crew also filmed at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. on the city’s south side, documenting some of the facility’s water conservation measures and interviewing environmental engineers working there.

“Toyota’s commitment to water conservation led to the creation of teams tasked with investigating ways to conserve water in our operations. A team at our San Antonio facility discovered a way to reduce water usage by more than 30 percent,” said Pat Pineda, group vice president of philanthropy at Toyota Motor North America. “That’s why we chose to highlight our Texas plant in the new 4-H film and one more reason we are so proud to support the work 4-H is doing to educate young people on the importance of water conservation.”

Members of the facility’s environmental team said Toyota strives to be a leader in water conservation and pollution prevention, and that engineers work with other professionals to ensure these activities are implemented to their optimal potential. They added that the San Antonio facility annually sets water-use limitation targets and uses recycled water in virtually all of its production processes.

“The 4-H20 for the Alamo program was initially funded in 2010 by a $25,000 grant from the Toyota Foundation,” Myles said. And for 2011, Toyota has committed at least an additional $40,000 toward the next phase of 4-H2O Community Projects activities in Texas, which will be expanded to nearby Hays and Guadalupe counties.”

Myles said the 4-H2O for the Alamo program also has been used in conjunction with other county AgriLife Extension youth education activities, including the Kids, Kows & More agricultural literacy program and the annual Texas Experience pavilion at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

“The Kids, Kows & More ag literacy program typically reaches from two to three thousand kids annually, and the Texas Experience pavilion brings in tens of thousands of kids each year during the run of the show,” he said. “4-H2O for the Alamo fits well with agricultural literacy efforts as well as youth development activities and efforts to build their interest in science and technology.”

Myles said in 2011 he and Bexar County 4-H leaders will continue to bring program instruction and activities to elementary and middle school students throughout the county.

“We’re proud 4-H2O for the Alamo is being featured in the new 4-H film and hope it will help inspire many more young people to become involved in water conservation and science,” he said.

Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-467-6575, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Greg Myles, 210-467-6575, gmyles@ag.tamu.edu

Aggie Stephenson, astephenson@fourhcouncil.edu

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