Ex-official wants teachers, students to soak up WET

SALEM – A former city official is asking local teachers to get WET in order to teach their students about storm water management and ways they can protect water resources.

WET stands for Water Education for Teachers and that’s exactly what local educators can receive by attending a six-hour Project WET workshop planned over two nights from 4 to 7 p.m. April 2 and 9 at the Kent State University City Center, 230 N. Lincoln Ave., Room 202.

Project WET coordinator Mickey Cope Weaver started her involvement with the mandated Storm Water Management Public Awareness Program while serving as city council president. Even though she left office after Dec. 31, she’s continuing to oversee the city’s program as a volunteer.

“We have the responsibility to protect that water to the best of our ability,” she said.

The course is open to all K-12 teachers, home school teachers and Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, with anyone interested asked to call Weaver no later than Wednesday at 330-831-0370 or contact her via email at mawweaver@aol.com.

The workshop fee is $22 per person, with scholarships available to cover the cost for educators practicing within the Salem city limits, including Salem city Schools and St. Paul School. The city, which is sponsoring the workshop as part of its required public awareness program, will award up to 15 scholarships.

Cheryl Mattevi, a geologist at Kent State University who serves as a trained facilitator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, will be the instructor for the hands-on workshop.

According to information provided by Weaver, Project WET “is a national curriculum enrichment program focused on all aspects of water education. It is grounded in the belief that informed people are more likely to participate in the decision-making process and to make a difference through their actions. Project WET believes that the development of a water ethic should begin at an early age and that children benefit from parents, educators and mentors who recognize not only the scientific but also the social and cultural aspects of water.”

The Project WET curriculum and activity guide includes 90-plus water-related fun, easy-to-use, hands-on activities.

“The goal is to facilitate and promote awareness, appreciation, knowledge and stewardship of water resources through the development and dissemination of classroom-ready teaching aids,” the press release said.

The cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati have already incorporated Project WET into their schools, but this will be the first offering of the program in this area. Weaver said this will benefit the city. She said it’s critical to the continuing quality of water, noting that water is one of Salem’s greatest commodities.

Examples she gave of how the water can be protected included cleaning up after pets outside, using safe fertilizer in gardens, using safe household chemicals and disposing of them through area collection events, not by dumping them down the drain or outside.

“All those things help,” she said.

She noted that people not only have a responsibility to themselves but also to the aquatic life and animals affected by what happens to a stream.

The city is under orders by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to establish a public awareness program as a component of the mandated storm water management program. Another component was mapping out the city’s storm sewers to identify trouble spots.

Weaver said a brochure is being completed for the public awareness program which will include the previously selected logo and mascot of Hagly the hippo, created and drawn by Erica Davis.

Davis was a junior at Salem High School in March 2012 when her design was chosen for the campaign aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of the part they play in keeping area waterways clean.

Funding for the program is coming from the storm water management fee the city previously collected through sewer bills. Rather than increase costs for customers, the city simply shifted a small portion of each city sewer bill payment into a storm water utility fund.