CHS students raise springs awareness

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

A few Chiefland High School students, with the help of teachers and a few government agencies, are taking the health of Florida's springs to heart.

Students from the CHS Student Government Association and Youth Environmental Association, under guidance of science teacher Lita Weingart, spent much of the day Friday helping to educate their peers on the importance of springs in the schools first-ever Springs Awareness Day.

"The springs are in trouble," said Marc Minnow, an environmental scientist with the Suwannee River Water Management District at the event. "They've been degraded from pollution from agricultural runoff and from sewer systems."

Minnow, who spoke to students about springs, said it's important to educate today's youth on the plight of the environment, especially considering how important it is to the way of life in places such as Levy County.

"I think this is very important to reach these guys."

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission representative  Jessica Therriault was there handing out literature on conservation-related activities.

She said the children who visited seemed to have a good sense of what was going on, which is important, she said, because "without them learning this stuff, the future will be limited."

Students who participated in the program worked various stations set up outside. Felesia Jenkins and Tristin Love, both 17, stationed with a water testing kit in front of a fish bowl modeled on marsh ecosystems, demonstrated the various elements that are needed and not-so-needed in spring systems.

Nadia Bailey, 16, and Darian Everett, 17, gave demonstrations on the food chain and its importance in a balanced ecosystem. Other students had fun crafts planned for visiting students.

"We're trying to raise awareness of springs, in general," Bailey said. Getting people involved with what's going on is important, she said, because "just one person alone can't do it."

Weingart said the event took about six weeks to organize, and she hopes it will continue in the future.

The springs are an indicator of how healthy the environment is, she said. "We feel like the springs are such an important issue to our community."