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Forest Service brings water education to OR middle schools

When some central Oregon middle schoolers go back to school this fall, they’ll see a Forest Service face on their computers and classroom TVs.

A collaboration of federal and private partners—led by staff from the Deschutes National Forest—produced an educational video about the upper Deschutes River for use with the Bend-La Pine School District’s middle school life science curriculum. The “Sharing Water” video, which is now available on YouTube, presents information about how water, and water conservation, is important to their community in a variety of ways.

The video explains the importance of rivers to local ecology, agricultural users, municipalities, recreation and tourism. The video also presents a segment on the river’s cultural and spiritual significance to local Native American tribes.

The film and specific curricula to be developed around it will fit into an existing water curriculum developed by the city of Bend and local nonprofit the Environmental Center.

 “We wanted it to be educational, and we wanted to be sure that it represented the various needs for and uses of water equally,” said Jason Gritzner, hydrology and watershed program manager for the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests.

Water conservation is an especially critical issue in the Oregon high-desert, an area that gets just 10 to 15 inches of rainfall per year. But it’s also an emerging concern for communities across the United States. Gritzner said the information presented in the video could be of use to educators beyond the Deschutes River basin.

“Water in the high desert, or water anywhere really, is a finite commodity,” Gritzner said. “We have this conflict over water in this basin, this tension over the distribution of water. So we wanted to help kids understand the complete picture of all of the ways that water is needed in communities.”

Jason Gritzner standing in the water conducting training
Jason Gritzner, hydrologist and watershed program manager for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest, shares his knowledge with OR middle school students via FS training video.