(photo credit: Courtesy)
October 5, 2006 -- New York, NY -- For the fourth year, Jewish National Fund (JNF) has received a grant from the US Forest Service to provide water monitoring kits to hundreds of American Jewish schools and schools in Israel so they can participate in World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD), an international effort to educate the public about the importance of water and water quality.
For the first time, JNF is launching a pen-pal program to connect US schools to students in Israel. With a common program, they will share their results and compare water sources between Israel and the US and use it as a springboard for communication throughout the year.
Begun in 2002 as a program of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA) along with other global partners, WWMD is coordinated during the weeks surrounding October 18, the day designated as the focal point of the celebration each year to correspond with the anniversary of the US Clean Water Act.
"Water is a basic human right, the essence of life, and no matter who you are or where you live, clean, pure water is essential for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, commerce, and recreation," said Ronald S. Lauder, president of JNF of America. "It is essential that we teach our children about the importance of water quality and by partnering with Israeli schools, we are providing a link to the Jewish homeland."
WWMD offers communities around the world a chance to positively impact the health of rivers, lakes, estuaries, and other water bodies. In 2005, 47 countries with about 45,000 participants tested four key indicators of water quality: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.
The message is simple," said Robbie Savage, founder of WWMD. "The demands for clean water are many, yet there is no more water on the planet today than there was when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It is critical that individuals become aware of the ways in which they can impact water quality."
This international program brings together students from around the world to collect data from September 18 - October 18 and enter it into a global database using this link by December 18.
The Forest Service grant helps JNF provide kits to 200 schools in Israel and up to 75 schools in the US. In the week before actually testing the water quality, teachers provide students with advance information making for a more meaningful experience.
"This is our first year participating in the program, and so far it has been a terrific experience," said Mary Corton, a science teacher at the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore, MD. "Each morning, three 2nd graders come down to observe the weather and air temperature to coordinate with their water and weather science unit. Then, three 4th graders come with me to a pond that we have here on our Lower School campus to test the water. We are going to track the water quality of the pond daily until October 18, with each student in the 4th grade taking their turn at testing. Our Judaic teachers will be coordinating the religious aspects and have found the JNF primer a great resource."
The grant also enabled JNF to produce a special edition of its children's New Leaf and Growing Up! newsletters, which are devoted to water and water monitoring; 60,000 of each were distributed this year.
Schools that participate in this program need one or more water monitoring kits (depending on number of classes and students). Each kit allows 50 individual tests.
"The wonderful kits we received from the US Forest Service enabled each of the students to check most efficiently the details required for the study," said one of the Israeli students who participated in the program last year. "With the aid of the test tubes we were able to find out the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, without which no life exists. The sophisticated thermometer, also part of the kit, helped us understand the tremendous damage hot sewage causes by flowing from industrial plants into the rivers. Nature's delicate balance is disrupted by man and causes the death of vegetation and fauna in their natural habitat."
School participation is a two-step process. First, schools must register with JNF at here. Schools must be registered by October 18 and results can be recorded until December 18.
Upon completion of participation, all schools will receive special recognition from JNF and the United States Forest Service.