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Educate. Empower. Act. The mission of Project WET is to reach children, parents, educators and communities of the world with water education. We invite you to join us in educating children about the most precious resource on the planet — water.
This is the latest in a series of profiles and interviews of Project WET USA Coordinators compiled by Erica Cox, from Missouri Project WET.
Arkansas Project WET Coordinator Barbara Miller
This month's featured coordinator is Barbara Miller of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Barbara is the WETteam chair for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products and has been instrumental in getting much accomplished for Project WET. Her work on this same topic in Arkansas earned Barbara the 2011 Arkansas Water Environment Association's James Bailey Educator of the Year award.
Project WET (PW): Why did you want to be a Project WET Coordinator?
Barbara Miller (BM): I grew up on the Great Lakes - Lake Erie - and practically lived at Presque Isle State Park, spring through late fall and winter. BRRRR!! I love the outdoors and enjoyed this unique peninsular environment with its vast wetlands. Most of my outdoor time as a child, teen and adult was spent at the beach, in wetland areas or on the frozen bay in the winter. Though I moved from Pennsylvania to Texas and then Arkansas, my love of the outdoors and passion for water quality, quantity and conservation issues never changed regardless of where I lived. Project WET gave me a great way to express and address these concerns in a unified way, no matter what different challenges I might find. I love to get people of all ages excited about water concerns and wetlands!
PW: What is unique about your water address?
BM: Arkansas is a diverse state, and I am fortunate to travel all over it to witness the diversity first hand. Arkansas is bordered on the east by the Mississippi River and has many other river systems traversing the state as well as many lakes. Freshwater is abundant here, to the envy of some of our neighbors. We are known as the Natural State. It is the perfect place to explore waterways, to fish, and to get outdoors!
PW: How does your water address impact the way you use Project WET?
BM: I get excited about water issues and the challenges to water quality and quantity issues on the local and state level. I really try to get Arkansans excited about the abundant watery treasure, always focusing on how to think, not what to think. This abundance should not be taken for granted, however. Besides state and local issues, national policies affect Arkansans as well. Making the connections can be challenging since we do have a plentiful water supply, but it is a challenge I welcome.
PW: What is your fondest or funniest Project WET memory?
BM: My fondest memories are those made at Make a Splash water festival events. I love to see the students and teachers outside learning and having fun at the same time. We hold these in different parts of the state every year, so we get to see some pretty excited kids! Some of the archived pictures are priceless! The team that works at these and behind the scenes are phenomenal and such a support! Plus, who can beat a May day spent outside?
Click here to learn more about Barbara and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. And stay tuned for the next Coordinator Spotlight!