Sander Spring at Valley Water Mill Park

Yesterday, the Watershed Center received visitors from The Queen City’s own Sister City, Isesaki, Japan. Forty-five high school aged students hopped off of the bus and into the water. They were here as part of the 2013 Isesaki Global Leadership Academy Program through the English Language Institute at Missouri State University. They were here to learn about water. In order to understand differences and similarities between our cities, the students came to learn more about green buildings and resource management. Inside our LEED Gold certified C.W. Titus Education Facility our global neighbors had the chance to see the features that make a building environmentally friendly. “Are these buildings becoming more favored?” asked a young girl after I had finished discussing the recycled materials used to build and furnish the facility. I was happy to answer, “Yes.” I briefly discussed our history as an organization and the story of the building coming into place. We spoke of other examples throughout town and the country that exemplify the green building preference. After we walked outside to examine the rain garden, rainwater cistern, and the living-wall garden (which excited them all very much), I sent them to the stream with our volunteers to net and examine macroinvertebrates. They were ecstatic about the experience. Speaking to their chaperones, I found that many of them were commenting about the number of trees and the beauty of the Watershed Center and of Springfield. Many of them had not had outdoor experiences like this field trip. From the classroom to the creek, they were immersed in our beautiful Ozark Universe of bountiful resources, diverse wildlife, and unpredictable climate. Seeing our splendid locale through fresh eyes, I took time to reflect on our truly wonderful water resources. These are resources worth protecting and enjoying, worth talking about and sharing, worth conserving. Today, I encourage you to take the long way to your car, move your workout to the outdoors, or simply spend a moment enjoying the breeze. We inhabit a special place, and we have precious neighbors here at home and abroad. The students will return home to use what they have learned and change the world. Hopefully, we can do the same.

Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator

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