An intern’s intro to the WCO

This week’s blog post written by intern Laura Keys

My first two weeks as an intern with the Water Conservation Office have been a sample platter for some of the stuff this office does, and man, are they busy! From working with kids in local schools to throwing a rain barrel auction, this office knows how to get stuff done and perhaps more importantly, how to deal with unanticipated blocks in the road.

In my first week, I shadowed Marilyn, Laurie, and Christine (from Public Works) as they led activities for 2nd graders at Cleveland Road Elementary. It was great seeing how each used her own unique teaching style to connect with the students. (Also, it’s hard to go wrong with parachute games!) Some of the best on-your-feet-thinking happened with Laurie’s activity. Laurie’s plan was to play frog songs from various species and have the kids guess which frog’s call went with which. For the first 2 groups that came through her station, this activity worked great. However, the third group to visit her proved a bit more challenging.

Cleveland Road Elementary is one of the main schools in Athens-Clarke County that caters to deaf children, and this third group had 4 deaf students. A half hour of guessing frog sounds wouldn’t have been much fun for these 4 kids who couldn’t hear! Luckily, Laurie had brought a number of activities and pulled out a different game that the whole class could enjoy. Talk about the importance of being prepared!

My second week culminated in Roll Out the Barrels, a fundraising event for environmental education in Athens-Clarke County schools. The Water Conservation Office joined forces with the ACC Stormwater and Recycling divisions to prepare for the event, setting up tables, decorating the Lyndon House courtyard, and prepping 20 rain barrels for silent auction. The sun was out, and the temperature was perfect for an evening garden party, but there was a strong wind blowing early in the day.

We tried not to let the wind bother us, using tape, table legs, and even strategically placed stones to hold down bid sheets and tablecloths, but the wind proved too strong and kept stripping our tablecloths off the tables. All it took was one glass candle holder tumbling off the billowing tablecloth and shattering on the ground to make the decision to go sans tablecloths. The naked tables we were left with didn’t quite match the envisioned elegant decoration scheme, but we made it work, and none of the guests were the wiser.

Because the WCO deals with the public and schools, they have to be super flexible, especially in dealing with scheduling and groups that aren’t quite what they anticipated. The lesson I’m taking away from my first two weeks is to be prepared but stay flexible!


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