The next generation is on the right track when it comes to developing ideas to help save water, Hunter Water Education Lead, Kristy Ratcliffe, says.
Kristy has spent the past five years working to change the way the industry engages with schools to educate students about water sustainability.
“We have the same amount of water on Earth today as we did when dinosaurs roamed the planet,” she says.
“This fun fact has led to so many interesting discussions with students over the years about how precious water is and why we can’t take it for granted.
After joining Hunter Water in 2016, Kristy initially conducted school tours at the organisation’s Centre for Education in Mayfield West.
However, she has since worked with “some very talented people” to develop innovative new programs such as the Water Futures Challenge, which encourages Lower Hunter students to provide solutions to help our community save water through inquiry-based learning.
Another initiative saw Hunter Water collaborate with Awabakal and Worimi communities to create a story book that draws on their traditional wisdom and practices of caring for our land and waterways.
Kristy says the free eBook, titled ‘Where’s Our Water?’, is one of the proudest achievements of her career so far.
“I had the opportunity to work with extremely talented Indigenous artists, educators and students to produce a really great story book that has such significance to our region,” she says.
“The fact that we were able to bring so many people together to create a story that teaches children about the value of water through local Aboriginal culture and language is incredible.
“And, being a teacher at heart, I just love the joy that reading and story-telling brings to people.”
More recently, Kristy has led the launch of Waterworld – a web app designed to educate Lower Hunter students and families about shower habits and the importance of making Smart Water Choices when using this precious resource.
“I am proud to say that each of these initiatives – the Water Futures Challenge, ‘Where’s Our Water?’ and Waterworld – are industry firsts and are changing the way the water industry engages with schools,” she says.
Kristy is now looking forward to working with teachers and students once again as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
All NSW school students are set to return to on-site learning, with a range of COVID-Safe measures in place, by Monday 25 October.
“We have developed some great online learning resources over the past 18 months while we were all working and learning from home, but nothing beats being able to work with schools in the classroom and at our sites,” Kristy says.
Visit our Schools page for more information about our work in the education space.