In 1991, Cooperative Extension began a process of identifying how youth water education could respond to critical water quality issues. This initiative was designed to guide federal investment in water curricula, foster partnerships among national youth water education groups, and improve their access to water education resources. Much of our work at the University of Wisconsin-Extension Environmental Resources Center has focused on supporting and improving the quality of community-based programs. As a result of these efforts, thousands of young people and adult leaders have participated in community-based programs in every state. More than 25 partners in the US and Canada have contributed time, money and expertise. Two sets of materials developed by University of Wisconsin-Extension, Give Water A Hand and Educating Young People About Water, have greatly increased access to youth water education resources.The core set of beliefs guiding the development of these youth programs:
- Voluntary actions are the keys to maintaining a healthy environment.
- People are motivated when they understand how their choices improve their lives and communities.
- Environmental issues are best managed at the watershed or community level.
- Youth should be full and valued partners in local environmental problem solving.