Elementary Students Learn to Protect the Ohio River

Teacher with Shawnee Park studentsThe mighty Ohio River was a key factor in putting Louisville, Kentucky on the map in the 1700s. The resource ultimately helped the city flourish. Today, Louisville is the largest city located along the river.

While most people know the Ohio River is used to transport goods, it’s also the abundant source for Louisville Water’s high-quality drinking water: Louisville Pure Tap®.

American Water Works Association established Source Water Protection Week to reinforce why it’s necessary to protect our drinking water sources.

Last week, King Elementary students in west Louisville took a field trip to Shawnee Park. Third graders learned about the effects of weathering and erosion as well as how the Ohio River is a resource we use every day.

Shawnee Park riverbank

Louisville Water Community Relations Specialist Barbara Crow explained to the children the important link between a safe, abundant water supply and a thriving community.

“Many of these students live blocks away from the Ohio River and have never seen it.  Anytime you can make a personal connection to a natural resource right in their own backyard and the water they use every day, it’s a win,” Crow said.

Metro Parks’ ECHO (Engaging Children Outdoors) program aims to expand environmental education and outdoor recreational activities in west and south Louisville neighborhoods.

river house buildingECHO Naturalist Ginny Delaney taught students how erosion happens and the effects of it. The kids split into groups where they dug their own river with shovels, built a house with the mud and dirt, and then watched with wide eyes as the floodwaters arrived.

“When rain falls, whatever doesn’t soak into the ground flows to the lowest point. In our case, that’s the river. As the water flows down, it causes erosion here on the hillside,” Delaney explained.

King teacher, Kim Thomas, said “It helps these kids so much to have this hands-on experience because they can learn so much better out here than in the classroom.”

“Programs like ECHO help make that personal connection to nature and can make them lifelong stewards of the Ohio River,” Crow added.

She handed out rubber gloves at the end of her lesson and told the class to find something in the park that wasn’t part of the natural environment that could get into the river. The children collected plastic bottles, candy wrappers, and other trash.

Louisville Water and ECHO will visit with Coral Ridge Elementary students later this week at Riverview Park.

Ways you can help protect our water sources: