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ReWa dedicates Native Plant and Water Reuse Garden

Posted June 29, 2017 in Articles

ReWa is proud to announce that our Native Plant and Water Reuse Garden educational campus is now complete! The feature will serve a key role in educating the community on the benefits of water reuse and conservation efforts as well as native plants.

The purple pipe represents infrastructure that conveys reuse water that can be used for irrigation and other non-potable uses in the community.

Our partnerships are key to the continued success of our community outreach initiatives. Christine Burras, Academic Specialist in secondary science and STEAM education for Greenville County School District, spoke about the importance of partnerships at our dedication ceremony this June. Read her comments below.

Good evening, and thank you for the opportunity to share the vision of Greenville County Schools for partnering with business and community partners such as ReWa. Over the past three years, ReWa has worked closely with Greenville County Schools with the desired outcome of being role models and mentors for our students. The work that you have accomplished extends far beyond merely being a “field trip” destination, or providing information through an informative web site. As teachers, we can provide students with the content, teach the science, the math, the history. We need your expertise, however, to help us move beyond the standards; we need you to help us help our students to develop connections to the natural world, to develop a true understanding of sustainability practices, and to commit to doing their part in maintaining a healthy and viable world.

When I taught middle school in Illinois and high school in South Carolina, I would tell my students at the start of the school year that while my passion was science, I understood that not everyone looked at science the same way as I did. I did not expect them to all become scientists and engineers. I would, however, tell them that my goal was for each individual student to become “science literate.”  Take a few seconds and reflect. Everything we do in life is connected to science: from the foods we eat, to the clothing we wear, the transportation we select, our housing choices, our decisions regarding medical interventions. Literally, our lives are wrapped up in science. I would then share my favorite quote from Chief Seattle, a member of the Duwamish tribe: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” That theme served as the foundation of our study for the year. Science is more than being able to spout facts and competing on Jeopardy. It is about developing an awareness of our place in this vast universe and understanding the impact of our choices on this world.

We, in Greenville, SC, and, in fact, the United States, have access to some of the best water in the world. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if there was no water: no safe, reliable water and no wastewater services? What would life be like then? It is unthinkable for most of us sitting here, but it is already happening in the US in such places as Flint, Michigan, epic droughts in California, and even right here in SC where the infrastructure of sewer system is overwhelmed and crumbling. And we know that for many countries, easy access to usable water is almost nonexistent. Do you remember the Lorax who spoke for the trees in the famous Dr. Seuss book? Who will speak for clean water? Who will speak for our waterways? Who will assume responsibility for clean water as the current industry professionals age out? The hope: our young people.

Thankfully, educators along with business and industry leaders, now recognize that we need to do more in our schools, that we need to move students beyond the content. The Profile of a South Carolina Graduate and Greenville County’s G+ Initiative Build a Better Graduate provide the context–and give permission–for teachers to move beyond the textbook and into the real world. Forgive my analogy, but I look at the Profile as a three-legged lab stool. For so long, our schools have focused on one leg of the stool only: content. When the legs of a stool are uneven, the stool is wobbly; it is easy to lose one’s balance and fall. It is exciting to be able to turn our focus to the other two legs–World Class Skills and Personal and Career Habits. World Class skills including critical thinking, communications, creativity, and thinking about preparing students for their place in the world beyond formal schooling. Personal and Career Habits, such as work ethic, perseverance, integrity, and global perspective, ensure that students are able to identify individual strengths and passions, and that they more readily understand the impact individual choices make on the community–and on the world at-large.

This shift in focus to preparing students to assume roles of responsibility and accountability cannot be achieved by schools alone. This is where partnerships become so critical and imperative. Greenville County is looking for partners. But we are NOT talking about one-way partnerships. We want you to share your time, your talent, and your expertise as mentors, guest lectors, tour guides, and industry leaders. You may hang out through Google and FaceTime with classes, or you may be sitting elbow-to-elbow with students participating in a think tank session. Our vision is for a two-way partner to take root, and ReWa has already taken steps to work hand-in-hand with teachers and students. One example is the ReWa Challenge, designed to help middle school students become personally involved with the causes and concerns facing our community of Greenville. Student work closely with ReWa to develop either an awareness campaign for a variety of audiences or to design solutions for local community issues. Students never cease to amaze me with their energy, their enthusiasm, their creativity! Challenge them, as ReWa has, to take what you share and share it in return

This evening we are gathered to dedicate the Renewable Water Resources Water Reuse and Native Garden. This beautiful feature serves as a reminder of how we can engage in practices which are sustainable and complementary to nature. It demonstrates how innovative and resourceful we are as humans, and how we can work in conjunction with nature. I hope this will be a source of pride and a symbol of gathering and enjoyment for the community. I hope it provides a backdrop for engaging, encouraging, and extending our students’ abilities, I thank ReWa on behalf of Greenville County Schools for all they have done to encourage students and teachers as we move forward together on the journey to becoming stewards of our natural resources, and I look forward to our continued partnership. And I challenge each of you to take a step forward into our schools and communities. Share your passion and your commitment. As Chief Seattle stated, “We are all connected.”