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Pasco County teachers awarded grants | Environment

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Pasco County teachers awarded grants
Pasco County teachers awarded grants

PASCO COUNTY, Florida -- Nineteen Pasco County teachers are among the 206 educators across the District's 16-county region awarded Splash! school grants on Dec. 20 through the Southwest Florida Water Management District. 

The goal of the Splash! school grant program is to provide hands-on learning opportunities that teach students about their local watersheds and the freshwater resources within them. Splash! school grants provide up to $5,000 per school on a reimbursement basis only and are available to public, private and homeschool teachers.

Mary Margaret Hull, lead communications coordinator, attributed the effectiveness of the grant program in Pasco County to the strong partnership with Pasco County Schools, which helped get the word out to teachers. Laura Hill, an instructional supervisor for Pasco County Schools, serves as the District’s liaison to teachers.

“These teachers are receiving a small amount of money but are able to accomplish so much,” Hull said in a statement. “Grant recipients also use the District’s collection of curriculum materials and other free educational resources.”

The Pasco County awardees include:

  • Kay Stannard, Calusa Elementary School, will receive $2,582. Students will plant a hydroponics garden, monitor rain barrels and filtering devices, measure rainfall amounts, test pH levels, and assess the feasibility of using rainwater to supply fish tanks in the science lab.
  • Gloria Mouw, Centennial Middle School, will receive $991. Students will compare traditional and hydroponic gardening to discover the advantages and disadvantages of each system.
  • Michele Shumate, Charles S. Rushe Middle School, will receive $1,766. Students will participate in a classroom-based tour of a virtual watershed to learn about stream and river ecosystems.
  • Karen Stewart, Charles S. Rushe Middle School, will receive $3,220. Students will set up rain barrels and containers under air conditioners to collect water, and test the water to see if it is safe to use on garden plants. Students will plant and maintain a traditional and hydroponic garden, documenting the water use for both gardens.
  • Dennise Ondina, Countryside Montessori Charter School, will receive $3,076. Students will learn about the ecosystem of the on-site pond.
  • Kathryn Bylsma, Dr. John Long Middle School, will receive $2,470. Students will monitor rainwater from rain barrels as a freshwater resource for the school’s vegetable garden. Students will also take a field trip to Crystal Springs Preserve to learn more about water quality and participate in hands-on testing.
  • Anne McCallister, Dr. Mary Giella Elementary School, will receive $969. Students will learn about the water cycle and watersheds, and keep a journal of their observations. They will also create hands-on activities and will have a poster contest to encourage water conservation in the school.
  • Cindy Cole, Hudson High School, will receive $1,641. Students from environmental science, biology, physical science, advanced math, special education and agricultural science classes will join together to conduct experiments in water conservation by creating a native plant garden.
  • Shannon DiLandro, Hudson High School, will receive $909. Students will learn about the importance of fresh water as a resource and their own role in water conservation. Students will explore issues affecting fresh water in Florida, and conduct a mock trial dealing with water pollution issues.
  • Linda Blake, James M. Marlowe Elementary School, will receive $1,128. Students will learn about water conservation, individual plant species, and the difference between native and non-native plants. Students will participate in the planting of native plant species.
  • Denise Ballard, Mittye P. Locke Elementary School, will receive $2,804. Students will learn about the freshwater ecosystem and the animals that depend on it. They will visit J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park to perform water quality testing.
  • J.D. Durham, Moore Mickens Education Center, will receive $987. Students will expand the water-conserving garden they created with a previous grant.
  • Sarah Bordner, New River Elementary School, will receive $200. Students will learn about water conservation and watersheds through hands-on experiments, and will involve their families in the activities at the school’s Science Night.
  • Monica Dinwiddie, New River Elementary School, will receive $396. Students will create a five senses garden, which will be used as an outdoor classroom where students will record observations and test the water quality.
  • Amy Casey, Oakstead Elementary School, will receive $600. Students will install rain barrels, plant gardens and flower beds, and maintain the area around the school’s portable classrooms. They will measure the amount of rainwater collected and determine the amount of fresh water saved monthly by using the harvested water.
  • Lee Ogden, Pasco High School, will receive $3,997. Students will study natural systems, take a field trip to Crystal Springs Preserve and present information to elementary school groups.
  • Josh McCart, River Ridge High School, will receive $3,944. Students will create a living machine with a series of tanks to clean effluent water, mimicking wetland processes.
  • Margaret Higgins, Shady Hills Elementary School, will receive $3,154. Students will investigate the advantages of their rain barrel irrigation system and perform water quality testing. They will also take a field trip to the Crystal Springs Preserve to learn more about watersheds.
  • Jennifer Asaro, West Zephyrhills Elementary School, will receive $1,311. Students will log rainfall amounts using a rain gauge and rain barrel. They will also use the thermometer to understand the water cycle and how climate affects rainfall, record plant growth and use water test kits.

Past Splash! grant projects include water quality monitoring of local lakes and rivers, the development of water-conserving gardens on school properties, and outreach campaigns designed to promote awareness of water-conserving practices.

In addition to Splash! grant funding, the District offers educators free teacher training workshops, speakers for classroom presentations and free educational materials. The publications are correlated to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards and can also be ordered on the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/publications/.

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