It Takes a Village…
An African proverb holds “it takes a village to raise a child.” That same wisdom shines brightly in how Arizona Project WET (APW) has fostered collegiate relationships within its U of A family to help keep this leading edge water education program growing and developing.
Arizona Project WET has always been housed under the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and, like extended family, it has grown within the Arizona Cooperative Extension system and the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC). This dual relationship nourishes APW with innovative water research and field based implementation, helping to propel the program to new educational heights.
Director, Kerry Schwartz, works tirelessly as an Extension Specialist with an academic home in the Department of Soil, Water & Environmental Science, to diversify APW’s portfolio of programs and to incorporate new educational ideas with the intention of deepening student learning. The combined efforts of her, and her close-knit staff, continue to evolve the successful application of systems thinking and student metacognition into practical, real-world, water stewardship opportunities.
Successful community outreach couldn’t be accomplished without the help of the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension, Pinal County Cooperative Extension, and Coconino County Cooperative Extension offices. Members of the College’s Extension family are known for their “boots on the ground” approach to community improvement and work closely with APW field staff to help keep their classes and events flowing. Often the Extension Office’s Master Gardeners are the first to volunteer for field based APW programs and generally the last to leave!
To add to the family affair, the UA’s Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions Program helps nurture APW by funding a 0.8 FTE position in Maricopa County.
Historically, the University of Arizona developed a strong relationship with the Project WET Foundation, located in Bozeman, Montana, USA. In 1995, the University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with National Project WET and agreed to develop funding for a State director who could pioneer a water education program for Arizona. That innovative program is now known as Arizona Project WET.
Since that time, APW has established and maintains an advisory council, and a statewide network of partners, stakeholders, and sponsors. While, Arizona Project WET does not receive funding from the National Project WET Office, it does purchase curriculum guides and student booklets from them at a coordinator rate.
The Project WET Curriculum guides are nationally acclaimed. Hundreds of specialists in the fields of education, science, and engineering all work together to create water lessons which offer the best instructional methods and most important research-based content available. Project WET lessons are used as vehicles to drive real-world and relevant STEM learning.
In 2007, Arizona Project WET Director, Kerry Schwartz, worked extensively with Project WET to help coauthor the Arizona Conserve Water Educators’ Guide, the very first state specific curriculum guide. In 2016, Schwartz was honored to be asked to sit on the Board of Directors of the Project WET Foundation.