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Ironhouse Sanitary District was honored to receive a California Association of Sanitation Agencies' (CASA) Award of Excellence for Public Outreach and Education on Aug. 11 at the organization's annual conference. The award was received for a program the District ran in March where 700 sixth-grade students and chaperones toured ISD's Water Recycling Facility in two days.
"It’s a school tour at Ironhouse like never before!"
While staff at Ironhouse Sanitary District are used to seeing a classroom of students tour through their technologically advanced Water Recycling Facility, this time was nothing like they were used to.
It started with a phone call from one of the local middle school principals. Funding cuts and the no child left behind ruling mean that the annual weeklong science field trip that sixth grade students had taken for the last twenty years had to come to an end, leaving students with a giant hole in their education, as far as the principal was concerned. All was not lost though, as the principal knew that there were plenty of opportunities to explore science in their own backyard and that began right at Ironhouse Sanitary District.
The only question that remained was could Ironhouse accommodate a tour of the Water Recycling Facility for every sixth grade student in the Oakley School District in two-days during school hours?
Generally when a district offers schools a tour of their facility there are usually one or two classrooms touring in one day, but Ironhouse Sanitary District opened their facility to all of the 650 sixth grade students in Oakley and Bethel Island, plus adult chaperones. This was quite a different experience for any size district, much less one as small as Ironhouse.
The goal of the district was to offer a learning experience where every sixth grade student within the Oakley Union Elementary School District could attend and received a valuable education experience. The District provided these students lessons on the importance of wastewater treatment and protecting the public health and the environment. This was also excellent opportunity for the district to engage these students and adult chaperones on how recycled water plays an important role in helping with California’s drought.
Ironhouse recognized that this learning opportunity could be beneficial to not only the sixth graders, but also the next generation of wastewater professionals. Therefore, the District recruited students from the Bay Area Consortium of Water and Wastewater Education (BACWWE) as volunteer tour guides.
In the end the District was proud to achieve the goal of reaching nearly every 11 and 12 year-old living in Oakley and Bethel Island. These kids are the future.