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Red Lake DNR: Area fifth-graders convene at Concordia for fall water festival

Chris Parthun, district manager for the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District, talks about the Red Lake watershed to listening Northome fifth-graders, from left, Justin Jourdan, Garrett Bloom, and Daniel Jourdan. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Jenilynn Bohm thinks it's ironic that every year she has coordinated the fall water festival it has rained.

"Fortunately we have inside space to work with," said Bohm, a water resources biologist with the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources.

Around 200 fifth-graders from Blackduck, Kelliher, Northome, Ponemah, Red Lake and St. Mary's Mission schools attended the fall water festival on Oct. 21 at the Concordia German Language Village.

"The kids learn that although they attend different schools, they all live in the same watershed," said Bohm.

Funding for the festival was provided by an environmental education grant from the Environmental Protection Agency written by Bohm. The grant provides funding for educational outreach programs, such as the water festival and earth day activities for kids.

During the water festival, the fifth-graders visited different stations and participated in a variety of hands-on activities in learning about the water cycle, wetland animals, environmental contamination, non-point source pollution, and storm water. The students also learned how water affects tree growth and fire prevention.

"What's really neat about this is that it's an inter-agency effort working together to teach kids to take care of the watershed they live in," said Bohm.

Staff from the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Leech Lake Department of Resource Management, and the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District attended the water festival.

"We all live in the same watershed. What we do runs down to someone else," said Chris Parthun, Beltrami SWCD manager, to fifth-graders from Northome at a station.

Each student was also able to tour the unique BioHaus, an energy-efficient building at the German Village.

"Concordia is awesome. They provide staff and the Biohaus," said Bohm. "I wish I could've gone to something like this when I was in fifth grade."