The Texas 4-H Water Ambassador Program (initiated in 2017) provides high school aged youth an opportunity to gain advanced knowledge and practice leadership skills related to the science, technology, engineering, and management of water in Texas. Through their participation in a summer 4-H2O Youth Leadership Academy and (40) hours of annual service, water ambassadors gain insight into water law, policy and planning as they interact with representatives from state water agencies, educators, policy-makers, and water resources managers. Water ambassadors also gain an appreciation for the complexity of managing Texas surface and groundwater resources, its importance to local, regional, and state economies, and their responsibility to protect this valuable resource for future generations.
David Smith (BAEN Extension Program Specialist and 4-H2O Program Coordinator) reports that since the 2017 summer Academy, water ambassadors have earned more than 380 volunteer service hours and have reached approximately 5,100 youth and adults with water education and advocacy. According to Smith, “the Texas 4-H Water Ambassador Program seeks to leave a lasting impact on participants as well as the many sponsors, supporters, and industry leaders that make this program possible.”
The experience fosters a deep appreciation for the complexity of managing water in Texas. It also provides an opportunity for participants to discover the many career opportunities in the water industry. Water Ambassador John Phillip Jones, a sophomore from Waller County, says that “The Program has opened my eyes to a whole new world of water, both in industry and government. This program has provided me with many opportunities to increase my leadership skills, especially in the areas of teaching and teamwork.”
Smith is optimistic for the future of the Program and is looking forward to leading a second cohort of 4-H Water Ambassadors. “Over the past year, many of our participants have met with water industry leaders and Program sponsors face to face at meetings and professional conferences. I think the water industry recognizes the need to invest in the next generation of water leaders. It understands the importance of exposing these youth early on to a broad range of career opportunities in water, whether it be law, engineering, management, or policy. I think this Program is one step in that direction.”
Online applications for the 2018-2019 class of 4-H Water Ambassadors open February 19. For application instructions, visit https://texas4-h.tamu.edu/projects/water/.
To learn more about the program or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities contact David Smith at email@example.com or (979) 862.1989.
David Smith has 20 years of service with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in the Biological & Agricultural Engineering Department. David has a joint appointment with BAEN and 4-H Youth Development to develop and deliver statewide youth water and energy education.