Colorado’s Water Educators Welcome Project WET’s New Look and Mission

On March 11, the Project WET Foundation announced that, to better address critical water challenges and honor the diversity of its users worldwide, the Foundation has made a series of changes to its identity, mission and leadership.

In addition to its worldwide network of educators, Project WET provides water resource education materials, including the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide 2.0, recommended by the National Science Teachers Association. Project WET is used by a variety of educators in Colorado, from classroom teachers to water educators in water utilities, environmental education organizations, outdoor camps, and beyond.

“Project WET has provided invaluable educational materials for K-12 students that were not readily available. It encourages students and teachers to want to learn more about a variety of water-related topics,” said Tom Cech, co-director of the One World One Water Center at Metropolitan State University.

“At Aurora Water we have been using Project Wet activities to enhance our programs for over 20 years,” said Natalie Brower-Kirton, environmental education and outreach program manager at Aurora Water.  “Almost every program we do, whether it’s our school presentations and assemblies, H2O Outdoors water camps for high school students, water festival, field trips or teacher workshops include Project WET activities or were inspired by them.”

Since Project WET was founded in 1984, the WET acronym has stood for “Water Education for Teachers.” WET now means “Water Education Today,” signifying both the importance of tackling water challenges immediately and the impact that Project WET is having in classrooms and far beyond. “As millions of educators have used Project WET’s interactive methods to teach about water, the universality of those methods became clear,” said John Etgen, the new CEO of Project WET. “Although we will always look to teachers as leaders in Project WET, we know that Project WET works equally well for corporate employees, park rangers, scout troop leaders or anyone else who wants to teach about water using hands‐on activities.” As part of this change, the organization’s original “apple for the teacher” logo is being replaced with a more inclusive visual identity.

“Moreover, given the seriousness of global issues such as climate and resilience, it’s crucial that Project WET lead the way in encouraging people from all walks of life to teach about water,” he concluded. “When people understand the global challenges of water, they can take action to solve water problems in their communities.”

Project WET’s new mission is “Advancing water education to understand global challenges and inspire local solutions”. It reflects the role that effective, action‐oriented water education plays in confronting serious environmental issues such as climate change. A new Project WET climate resilience education guide will launch this month, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to inspiring solutions to pressing global challenges.

As the host institution for Project WET in Colorado, Water Education Colorado reached out to water educators around Colorado for their reaction to the new identity.  “I’m so excited about the new mission and rebranding of Project WET,” said Brower-Kirton. “I think it more accurately reflects the depth and breadth of the diverse audiences who use Project WET programs in their work. As a water educator for a water utility I feel that Project Wet is recognizing our work, not just as facilitators who share this information with classroom teachers but as valuable partners in water education.”

“Project WET is Water Education Today, an exciting transition for the most widely used water education curriculum in America. It’s inspiring to see the relevancy of this international program evolve with the world where we all live,” said Sarah Johnson, who was the former Project WET Colorado statewide coordinator and is founder and director of Wild Rose Education. Johnson instigated bringing Project WET back to Colorado in 2016 after a few years’ hiatus in which Colorado had no statewide coordinator. “Project WET curriculum sets the base standard for water education for all types of learning settings. It will be exciting to see how the new inclusive mission is realized through new relevant effective trainings and teaching resources in the year(s) to come.”

Project WET’s change in focus to an increasingly inclusive, action-oriented approach is an opportunity for water education in Colorado. To achieve a sustainable water future, Coloradans need to work together to equip our communities with the knowledge and resources needed to become informed water stewards and participate effectively in decision-making processes.

“Project WET will continue to be a valuable resource as water educators in Colorado implement the Statewide Water Education Action Plan [SWEAP],” said Brower-Kirton, a member of the Coalition that help put SWEAP together. “It sounds like with the new changes at Project WET non-traditional water educators (those who work for water and environmental education focused organizations) will be further supported in and recognized for their contributions to water education. After all, it’s important to support people who share their knowledge of water and create future water leaders.”

We are excited that Project WET has taken the next step of leading a new generation of water education in its national and global networks. If we want to continue enjoying all the benefits Colorado’s water provides, we must go beyond being just water users and become water stewards to ensure a reliable water future.

Water Education Colorado will be hosting a Project WET Educator Workshop at Keystone Science School on August 21 with activities focused on climate and Colorado’s water future.  You can learn more here.  We also plan to host a Project WET Facilitator Workshop in the Roaring Fork Valley in 2021.  If you would like more information, please contact Scott Williamson at scott@wateredco.org or 720-398-6438.

About the Project WET Foundation: Project WET (Water Education Today) advances water education to understand global challenges and inspire local solutions. Since 1984, tens of millions of people around the world have learned about water using Project WET’s interactive, hands‐on activities. Through its worldwide network of implementing partners, Project WET is active in all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries. Visit projectwet.org or follow @projectwet on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.