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Changing Hearts and Minds

My job as the new Stormwater Educator is to help members of our Cuyahoga County communities become stewards of their individual environments as well as the environments they share. We often judge the effectiveness of education based on how well students can repeat back what they’ve been taught. If our goal in environmental education is to change behaviors, then just sharing facts and concepts isn’t good enough. In the 1950s, Keep America Beautiful changed hearts with a series of ads about littering. In the 70s, we realized that placing litter in the “right spot” wasn’t enough. Over time individuals and communities have embraced the call to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to slow the stream of consumer goods filling our landfills. Today we need individuals to make choices that help us manage the stormwater – much of which flows directly into lakes and streams without any treatment. Citizens rely on their city leaders to make good planning and maintenance choices to control stormwater but a lot of people aren’t aware of the impact their personal behaviors have on the quality and quantity of stormwater in their neighborhood.

It’s about doing – not just knowing! With this in mind, I’ll be creating more opportunities for students and adults to participate in hands-on activities, workshops and service projects. Whether we’re cleaning a stream, stenciling storm drains, enjoying a school water festival, participating in a teacher workshop or using school curriculum that shows us how our actions directly affect the environment, we will be forming connections to our environment – going beyond the facts and concepts. We can build an army of watershed stewards capable of changes just as wide-spread, significant and routine as litter prevention and recycling have become. Grab a friend and join us soon at an event near you. Together we can change hearts and minds and make a difference in our community! For more information about our teacher workshops or student stormwater programs contact me at 216/524-6580, ext. 20 or jzevenbergen@cuyahogaswcd.org.

Blog author: Jacki Zevenbergen, Stormwater Educator

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