El Cajon Water Conservation Group Wins California’s Highest Environmental Honor
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
When it comes to educating children about saving water, a nonprofit group in El Cajon is doing it right.
2013 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership award recipients
The Water Conservation Garden
Western Riverside Council of Governments
University of California, Irvine
California National Guard
Homewood Mountain Resort
City of San Jose
Hilton Concord Hotel
California Department of Public Health
NASA Ames Research Center
Nissan of Downtown Los Angeles
Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority
Source: California Environmental Protection Agency
The Water Conservation Garden was one of 13 recipients of the 2013 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership award, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.
The award specifically recognizes the Water Conservation Garden's Ms. Smarty-Plants program, an interactive presentation led by a character of the same name that teaches children ways to save water.
The Water Conservation Garden was the only recipient from San Diego County.
The group's director, John Bolthouse, said one of the program's goals is to pass on water conservation information from the kids to their parents.
"When you're trying to make major changes in a culture, it really starts with kids," Bolthouse said.
Ms. Smarty-Plants was developed five years ago by Pam Meisner, the Water Conversation Garden's education director. Meisner, or another member of the staff, dresses up as the charismatic Ms. Smarty-Plants and uses props, other actors and audience participation to engage kids.
"It's not just fun right on the spot, but they're retaining this education in subsequent months and years," Bolthouse said.
By year's end, Bolthouse said the Ms. Smarty-Plants program will have reached 50,000 children.