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Hernando County teachers awarded grants | Environment

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Hernando County teachers awarded grants
Hernando County teachers awarded grants

HERNANDO COUNTY, Florida -- Seven Hernando County teachers are among the 206 educators across the District's 16-county region awarded Splash! school grants this year 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 Hernando County to the strong partnership with Hernando County Schools, which helped get the word out to teachers. Jeff Yungmann, curriculum supervisor for Hernando 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 Hernando County awardees include:

  • Leonette Ehlenbeck, Challenger K-8 School of Science & Mathematics, will receive the K-3 Watershed Resources Box. Students will learn about the importance of watersheds in a program that integrates science, mathematics, social studies and literature in hands-on learning activities.
  • Donald Weed, Explorer K-8, will receive $2,734. Students will participate in classroom readings, hands-on assignments and field trips that will focus on the Floridan aquifer system. They will visit limestone caves, springs, rivers and marshes.
  • Lisa Rae Dickinson, F.W. Springstead High School, will receive $1,611. Students will learn about the Weeki Wachee River and Jenkins Creek ecosystems. Data collected by the students will be added to databases for the Weeki Wachee River and Jenkins Creek and shared with District staff.
  • Wendi Bellows, Gulf Coast Academy, will receive $3,947. Students will plant drought-tolerant plants and install drip irrigation. They will perform water quality testing, create simulated aquifer filtration systems and produce public service announcement videos.
  • Linda Kelley, Moton Elementary School, will receive the K-3 Watershed Resources Box. Students will learn about the importance of watersheds in a program that integrates science, mathematics, social studies and literature in hands-on learning activities.
  • Ann Connell, Suncoast Elementary School, will receive the K-3 Watershed Resources Box. Students will learn about the importance of watersheds in a program that integrates science, mathematics, social studies and literature in hands-on learning activities.

In addition to the county’s public schools, one private school was awarded Splash! grants.

  • Madhu Thomas, Hernando Christian Academy, will receive $1,243. Students will study ecosystems and the role of wetlands. They will observe their home water use, complete mini-labs and water quality testing, and take field trips to a wastewater treatment plant and the Springs Coast Environmental Education Center.

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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