UES celebrates water quality, conservation

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

One principal’s quest to get a water bottle filling station for her school turned into a learning experience for all the students.

This year marks Dr. Diana Bowers’ first year as principal at Unaka Elementary School, and one of her first goals for the school was to get a water bottle filling station for the students and staff to use.  To get funding for the project, Bowers turned to Donors Choose, a fundraising website www.donorschoose.org which allows teachers and schools to post their needs and connects them with donors who want to help.

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In her proposal, Bowers said she not only wanted to make the drinking water readily available for students to have with them throughout the day, but she also wanted to use the opportunity to teach them about environmental conservation through recycling and reducing waste.

Bowers submitted the project to Donors Choose on July 6 and the organization posted it to the public on July 7. The Tom’s of Maine company selected the Unaka Elementary project to receive matching donations from its “Green Your Schools Fund.”

By July 11, the project had reached its goal of $1,181 to purchase and install the water filling station.

Carter County Bank also contributed to the project by donating water bottles so that each student and staff member would have their own water bottle in the school’s colors of red and white and featuring the school logo.

To help celebrate the completion of the project, Bowers invited some guests from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to speak with the students on Tuesday about water quality, recycling and environmental conservation.

The students learned about the different organisms that live in water, what those organisms indicate about water quality, and the importance of recycling so trash does not end up in streams.

Biologists with TDEC brought a variety of things for the students to check out. The students were able to look at water samples under a microscope, check out some specimen samples, and even see some examples of aquatic life collected by the biologists Tuesday morning in Stoney Creek just before they arrived at the school. Many of the children were fascinated by the crayfish, which biologist Tina Robinson said were always a hit with children when they do presentations.

Bowers said she hopes to build on Tuesday’s event to continue stressing the importance of recycling to the students. The Carter County Recycling Center installed a plastic recycling receptacle at the school to go along with the paper recycling bin already in place.

“We are the only elementary school that has paper and plastic recycling,” Bowers said.

In the future, Bowers hopes to open a recycling center at the school that the community could use when school is not in session.