A recent walk with a workmate . . . while enduring extremely tough working conditions (I hate these days), we had entered a discussion about creating yet another course for educating those persons in our work structure about environmental programs. It’s what I do, so I’m usually always inviting the creative ways of thinking, educating and learning.
This morning’s picture was on another hike out in the field at an extremely vulnerable opportunity to witness the various endangered species I am entrusted to protect, and educate those that use this environment, to help protect it, and the species that are already there.
Yes, I work in the environmental field and I write training lessons about environmental programs to hopefully educate those that use the land to help protect it so others can use the land the way we use it today.
So the question came up about educating individuals about water and energy conservation. Simple stuff some may say. Shut off the faucet and turn off the lights, right? The discussion continues toward the reason why we don’t spend time educating individuals about such seemingly logical tasks.
Well, we live here in Southern California and water is often times always an issue; at least it is in San Diego since we are actually a costal desert. Now I’m not going to go deeply into what our environment is and the landscape structure and whether we really live in a desert or whatever. At my workplace I am surrounded by scientists, engineers and specialists that can answer all of that for me. I am hired as an Environmental Protection Specialist; but more so, my specialty resides with knowing a lot about all of the programs enough to write training for them and manage an information website. I follow all these people around to try to learn what I can so I can teach people about the environmental programs thus freeing up the scientists and engineers to do the science and engineering stuff. It’s actually fun when I can get the scientists (very analog thinking) and engineers (very digital thinking) together in the same room and throw a conversation instrument out on the table. These folks go on for days . . .
Now back to my dilemma. During our morning walk, I had brought up the point about teaching students about water conservation and potential methods to successfully accomplish that task. Remember, water conservation is thought to be a simple subject with some simple answers resulting in the final outcome of “turn off the faucet”. I then looked to my scientist (the guy I’m on the walk with) for suggestions.
I pointed out that most of my students may not really know how water gets to the faucet and how the use of pressure is created from a water tank located atop a hill or tower somewhere nearby. The water is pumped into the tower from a lower level stream, lake or river. Ours is mostly reservoirs supplied by the Colorado river. Needless to say, our water here in Southern California comes from somewhere else and it costs money to get it here . . . thus some of the charges on your water bill. I then pointed out to my scientist the wasteful behaviors of even some of those individuals in our work area, as I had witness several of them washing their lunch-time dishes in the office kitchen one day. I would watch them open the faucet up full blast to rinse them. I would also watch them open the faucet full blast to rinse out a recyclable plastic food container. Now, over the last couple of years I had begun to wonder about the benefits or detriments of recycling since it is a necessity to clean our recyclable containers to prevent odors and vectors (varmints). I continue to ask if it is as beneficial to recycle in areas needing strict water conservation efforts like San Diego County in states such as California. Seems like we are always in drought conditions.
As I watched these workmates of mine washing dishes and recyclables with forceful amounts of water going down the drain, I would ask them if they knew how water gets to the faucet and if they could just put water in the largest dish or bowl already in the sink, add some soap, do a little scrubbing then rinse it all off. They would usually feel bad at first but often times would say, “it’s not my water bill”. They would turn the faucet down a bit, and hurry their way through their dishes so the next person could mount up and clean up, turning the faucet on full blast once again. I thought to myself about how I could strike emotion into these educated individuals.
I mentioned I work along side of scientists and engineers. I’m guessing some of them had been to college based on the various degrees they hold. We even have a PhD in our office. Now I know from my life long learning, that with college comes partying. With partying comes a bit of drinking. College students are always looking for a new game to free their minds from the rigors of the classroom and continually come up with things like beer pong and I had even recently found a beer bong in my RV. Friggin’ college students! Yeah I have a feeling that the beer bong got left behind from my eldest son (a college graduate) and his friends one evening. That gave me the idea about teaching these scientists and engineers (yes one of them is responsible for the water conservation program) about conserving water and drinking beer.
I asked one the guy I was on my morning walk with about how a beer bong works, and explained that it is similar to the way water is stored in a water tower. If the valve on the end of the beer bong is opened, the water comes out full force. If we close the valve a bit, just like shutting the faucet off a bit to conserve water, it takes longer for the beer to come out. He warned me about using that example in class. I said to him, “that’s what is missing in education today, the emotional bond between teaching, understanding and learning”.
I’m probably going to use that in class someday, just as I have already used that example in the kitchen with those scientists and engineers. I mean, who doesn’t understand the beer bong. Close the valve a little.