Youth Water Summit to Address Current and Future Water Resource Challenges

Thursday, April 10 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho and area high schools are working together to prepare the next generation to make important decisions about Idaho’s water resources.

On April 14-15, over 100 students from north-central Idaho high schools will gather at UI for the First Annual Youth Water Summit. The event will provide a forum for students to share water-science research and propose solutions to local water resource challenges.

The first day will feature an exhibition of student research projects from science classes in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Moscow, Potlatch and St. Maries. Using a variety of media – from posters to web art to videos – students will present their findings on water resource topics such as the impact of earlier spring runoff due to climate change on huckleberry habitat and tourism, using rain gardens to conserve water, or implementing a city-wide effluent piping system in Moscow for residential irrigation.

The Youth Water Summit is the culmination of a combined effort by Idaho graduate students and K-12 teachers to explore water-resource science in high-school science classes. The student participants will get to test what they have learned when they are presented with a water resources problem-solving scenario relevant to their local communities. They will work in teams to address each challenge and present their solutions to teachers, students and water resource professionals on the second day of the summit.

The event was created by the Confluence Project, a partnership between Idaho’s Waters of the West GK-12 program and The Lands Council.

The WoW GK-12 program funds teaching fellowships for graduate students in fields related to water resources and the environment. Fellows work with partner teachers in middle and high schools to deliver hands-on science lessons, using water resources as a context for learning physical, Earth and life sciences. Fellows help students understand how scientific concepts learned in the classroom apply to real-world issues such as aquifer depletion, floods and droughts, or the interrelationship of salmon and hydropower dams.

Becky Rittenburg, WoW GK-12 Fellow in Idaho’s Water Resources Program, said the Confluence Project takes this effort one step further, “getting students outside to experience real field-based research and to connect with real scientists in the their region.”

The graduate fellows bring research know-how to the project, while a partnership with The Lands Council provides access to local agencies, non-profits and scientists. In its pilot year, the Confluence Project has led numerous field trips to give students field experience with water science topics such as hydrology, water quality, watershed restoration and snow science in the natural environment.

“Providing them the opportunity to make connections between what they learn in school and how it impacts their lives and their communities allows them to better retain the information and apply it in a meaningful way,” Rittenburg said. “We think activities like the Confluence Project and the Youth Water Summit will prepare students for college, specifically through doing research and understanding the interdisciplinary connections between everything they learn in school.”

For more information, view the Youth Water Summit agenda at

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit