In 2013, the first edition of the River Kidz workbook was produced with help from Mary Anne Conrad, teacher at Jensen Beach Elementary, Nic Mader, River Mom and Dolphin Ecology Project, Julia Kelly, artist, (http://juliakellyart.com), input from the “Kidz,” and me, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.
The workbooks were a great success and shared in many of the Martin and St Lucie County elementary and middle school classrooms.
(In case you have not seen the first edition, electronic copies are available at (http://riverscoalition.org) at the bottom of the page.)
Now, in 2014-2015, a second edition will be released. Exciting! But what’s the difference and why so soon?
Well, long story short, one of the projects that master-teacher Crystal Lucas did with her Jensen Beach High School (JBHS) Marine Biology II Class last year, during the LOST SUMMER, was a “rework” of the first edition workbooks. The idea was to have the older kids teaching the younger kids. A collaborative effort and from their perspective.
River Kidz was started by two fifth grade girls in the Town of Sewall’s Point in 2011, Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader. The power of the movement is that it comes from kids. The overseeing adults of River Kidz wanted to keep that theme going, but to bring it to a new level.
The JBHS students were in a position to do this because with Crystal’s leadership they had had extensive studies of the Everglades, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in reference to discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the local canals, C-23; C-24 and C-25. This education involved attending the Everglades Coalition Conference, studies with the Everglades Foundation, air boat rides in Lake Okeechobee with legends Nat Reed and Maggie Hurchalla/SFWMD, classroom visits by the Army Corp of Engineers’ Lt. Col. Thomas Greco, Marty Baum, the Indian Riverkeeper and many local and state elected officials including myself.
The students even won first place in the Keep Martin Beautiful Environmental Stewardship Awards for their work on water issues!
Concerning the rewrite of the workbook’s first edition, the JBHS students decided first and foremost that there needed to be a mascot and a story. They determined the mascot should be named , “Marty the Manatee,” and yes, this was inspired by none other than Mr Marty Baum! (http://www.indianriverkeeper.org)
So artist Julia Kelly was task to come up with a character and she did, even though she refused to put a mustache on Marty as the students requested because she felt “we needed to be wary of anthropomorphizing the animals.” The steering committee agreed, and Marty was born! 🙂
Through the JBHS students’ eyes, Marty tells the story of his ancestors’ former home in all its glory with the mythical Pond Apple Swamp at the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee, clean rivers, and a life with animal friends throughout the northern and southern Everglades. He then goes into today’s struggle with overdevelopment, agriculture, sugar and agribusiness south of the lake, polluted water discharges, redirection of water into the St Lucie/IRL and Calooshatchee from Lake Okeechobee, and other drainage canals, loss of seagrass, algae blooms and friend “die-offs.” He gives ideas for a better, cleaner world and a happier future. There is hope! And that hope lies in the River Kidz, the future….
The workbooks will be a beautiful collaboration of student and artistic ideas that are sure to inspire generations to come. The goal is to have a fundraiser-grand-release party in November at Blue Water Editions, a division of Southeastern Printing, the invaluable local company that will be printing the workbooks.
The workbooks are a collaboration, and River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition. The steering committee consist of Nichole Mader, Crystal Lucas, Valerie Gaynor, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Blue Water’s Jason Leonard.
Donations are welcome!
Bumperstickers promoting the workbook are available at Blue Water Editions, located at 4665 Se Dixie Highway, Port Salerno. (http://www.bluewatereditions.com)
More information will be forthcoming. But for now, enjoy the artwork and remember ALL KIDZ (and ADULTZ) are River Kidz!
Our mission is to “speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers!”