2nd Graders Teach Me About the Kissimmee River, Lake O’s Phosphorus and Nitrogen, How to Save the SLR/IRL

Mrs Jacobsen and her students present the Kissimmee river model. (Photo  JRL, 4-22-15.)
Mrs Jacobsen and her students present the Kissimmee River- Lake Okeechobee model. (Photo JTL, 4-22-15.)
River Kidz is empowering for students!
River Kidz is empowering for students!

It was Earth Day yesterday, and my eyes filled with tears as I walked into the  Citrus Grove Elementary School classroom. I had been invited to see the graduation of River Kidz for Mrs Jacobson’s second grade class. Once I opened the door, the students were waiting and some took me by the hand sitting me down; they were so exited to show me what they had been learning, and how they were all working to grow up and save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

“This is different.” I thought to myself….”in years past, I would take control of the classroom, but now the kids are taking control of me!”

I watched the classroom dynamics. It was not” top down; ” it worked in both directions: Mrs Jacobsen assisting her students while they in turn assisted her— working together.

While the presentation was prepared, one boy excitedly told me about how the class had built this model of the Kissimmee River to represent what it looked like before it was channelized, “straightened,” by the Army Corp of Engineers between 1960-1971. He also explained “this is one of the things hurting our river…”

Model’s sign.
model wide view
Model wide view: floodplain, river, and Lake Okeechobee…
glass of water and green glitter
Glass of water and green glitter representing phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer and other runoff.
glitter representing phosphorus and nitrogen
Glitter representing phosphorus and nitrogen ends up in Lake O but not as mush as it the tube were straight!

He shared that the board painted green was the floodplain’s vegetation, and the plastic tube that weaved and oxbowed, like a snake, was the original river;  a cup of water filled with glitter represented nitrogen and phosphorus-what feeds toxic algae blooms in our rivers. This water-glitter concoction would be poured through the tube, (the river) and the extra “nutrient” or fertilizer, would end up in a plastic brown container at the bottom of the tube representing Lake Okeechobee.

We stared with great amazement and observed how because of the oxbows, most of the glitter, was caught in the winding shape, and just a little ended up running through the tube. Students discussed how if the tube were straight, of course all of the green glitter-water would “just shoot down into Lake Okeechobee.”

“This is why the ACOE is fixing some of the river “oxbowey” again…Making the river strait was a bad idea….” 🙂

More complex that this? Of course. But does this help a second grader start to “get it?”

Kissimmee River Story: (http://www.ces.fau.edu/riverwoods/kissimmee.php)

What a visual! How awesome! I was more than impressed…

As the morning went on, we there was a presentation from the “Dolphin Lady,” Nic  Mader, and the students showed their artwork, letters to Congressman Murphy, and chart on the white board counting down days left for the Florida Legislature to purchase land south of the lake.

Hoy Cow! —–No, Holy River!

The River Kidz program is in Martin County schools and with the help of great teachers and wonderful students, it’s creating excitement, understanding, empowerment, and responsibility for a better water future.  A future for which we can all be proud…

Writing Congressman Murphy fulfills a state standard.
Writing Congressman Murphy fulfills  state standards.
One of the lethers to Congressman Murphy.
One of the letters to Congressman Murphy.
Sign on board wit land purchase south of the lake deadline for the state legislature, 2015.
Sign on board with land purchase south of the lake deadline for the state legislature, 2015.
Stop Killing Our Lagoon art work.
Stop Killing Our Lagoon art work.
Save the Animals art work.
Save the Animals art work.
River Kidz Second Ed. Workbook.
River Kidz Second Ed. Workbook. Teachers use to teach as fits their class.

Electronic copy: “River Kidz 2nd Ed. Workbook:” (http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/riverkidz-workbooks/)


Mission Statement River Kidz
Mission Statement River Kidz
Mrs Jacobson's students all graduated receiving a certificate from the River Kidz program from the back of the book. They were very proud and will be River Kidz for the entire lives.
Mrs Jacobson’s students all graduated receiving a certificate from the River Kidz program from the back of the book. They were very proud and will be River Kidz for their entire lives.


River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

27 thoughts on “2nd Graders Teach Me About the Kissimmee River, Lake O’s Phosphorus and Nitrogen, How to Save the SLR/IRL

  1. Wow! This is REALLY amazing – you must be so proud of it all. Look what you and others have accomplished in such a short amount of time. Incredible – the work these Teachers have done in educating and inspiring the children to observe and articulate; they really get it!
    The poster that reads “You have the power to do anything” say’s it all doesn’t it.

    This story gives me so much hope for the next generation and the plight of our waters. I hope I live long enough to see it all get better. Thank you Jacqui for sharing this with us.

  2. Wonderful! The highlight of Earth Day for me! Thanks for inspiring, caring and sharing!


  3. We had so much fun in Mrs Jacobson’s class yesterday. Taylor was so excited to come home and show me her river kidz shirt and sticker. My little activist is ready to get involved. Thank you for taking the time
    teaching them about the river.

  4. Thank you so much for going to Mrs. Jacobsen’s class. My son has been talking about this event for weeks. As we drive by the St. Lucie River and other things – like on our way up to Orlando last weekend – my son points out all the things he has learned about pollution and what we can do to help. I am pretty good friends with Patrick Murphy’s sister-in-law. I texted her a couple of the pictures that you posted and she, in turn, was going to text them directly to him! So cool!

    1. Dear Shannon–that is so cool! I think Congressman Murphy will get a big kick out the student’s work and it will inspire him to keep working for the kidz and for the river! So glad your son talks about what he has learned to you! Thank you.

  5. Thank you for teaching us about the IRL. We had fun doing the project for the class. Also thank you for the food. I have been telling everybody how to protect the IRL.

    Lincoln Salazar

  6. My daughter had a wonderful time yesterday. Thanks so much for speaking to the class!
    Jennifer Waters

  7. Thank you for coming to my class and talking about the Indian River Lagoon. It was cool having you come to my class. I am mad about what is happening. I will write a letter to the government. I could also make posters to raise awareness. I hope the Indian River Lagoon will not be toxic in a few years.

  8. I have participated in many classroom celebrations during my daughters (3) years of school-yes I’ve always left with a smile and great memories, this one however, was different. You and Nic Mader are absolutely famous in my daughters eyes. For days she talked about the celebration and how excited she was to have a special visit from you. And, I must say, it’s so darn cute to hear her say your name:) So, walking into the classroom, I knew what she had been learning from Mrs. Jacobsen had already impacted her greatly. What I didn’t know, was how I was going to learn so much from you…And more surprisingly, from a classroom of 2nd graders!
    I could feel the intensity and the passion of your work and your efforts. The children could feel it too, they lit up with excitement and truly became the Indian River Lagoon’s next generation of activists right before our eyes!
    Thank you so very much for visiting and giving such a wonderful learning experience. There were so many valuable lessons taught and shared yesterday but what I enjoyed most was seeing my daughter realize that she, too, can be powerful and her voice can be heard. She wants to help spread the word, and that makes me one proud mama:) Thank you!

    1. Dear Crystal,
      I cannot express how deeply your comment affects me. A reward beyond words and expression in our difficult journey for clean water. Thank you so much for what you have expressed. It is gas in my tank to keep working with youth. They are programed to be protectors. —-Youth is the answer. 🙂 Tell your daughter thank you and hello!

  9. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with our class and having fun with us. My favorite part was eating snack, just kidding, really it was teaching my Dad about river kidz. I enjoyed the party and my Dad liked the glitter water experiment. I hope the IRL gets healthier. My favorite food was donuts MMMMMMM donuts. 4/22/15 I sent a letter to Congressmen Murphy and I am a official river kid, I hope he likes donuts and wants to be a river kid too.

    Torian Rohmann

  10. Thank you so much for all my daughter Amy is learning about the environment, the river and related issues, especially the fish and animals. Amy loves to tell my wife and I all the new things she has been taught. We were actually fishing one day and Amy told us the type of water was a mix of salt and fresh waters. I never heard that term and am unable to recall it now. But I was impressed. I really appreciate all the hard work.
    Marc Destefano

    1. Thank you Mark! Brackish. 🙂 So exciting your daughter, Amy, is sharing with you and teaching others what she is learning. This is the key to our healthy river future. Thank you Marc for your comment.

  11. Thank you for coming to our class & letting us share our information about Lake Okeechobee & the Indian River Lagoon. 😄 From Andrew O.

  12. Thank you for showing me Lk Okee. I learned a lot. I liked the seagrass & nursery the most. I feel bad because fish are dying because the water is toxic. I wish the river gets clean soon so fish don’t die anymore.
    Amy Destefano

    1. Amy thank you so much for writing me. We will keep working for the water and for the animals. Your work and knowledge is so important because you make the difference. You are very important. Adults listen to kids. Government listens to kids. Together we will fix this. Thank you so much!

  13. How wonderful it is to see these children learning about Florida’s water troubles. It’s amazing what these books have done to educate youth who in turn will go home and educate their own parents!! Martin County has done an incredible job of teaching environmental stewardship by their actions and it’s great to see that it’s spreading into St. Lucie County now as well through a new chapter of River Kidz. It’s very exciting to see and I can only imagine what great leaders we will have in our future. Thank you for all you do!!

  14. Thank you Ms. Jacqui for coming to my school and talking to our class about the river. My favorite part of the day was becoming a River Kid! I really liked seeing our pictures on your blog too.

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