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December 11, 2016
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Every drop counts Students study water conservation, paint rain barrels

Josh Schweighofer of the Agway store in Lake Ariel, PA, shows off a rain barrel that was painted by students at Canaan Christian Academy.

Rain barrels are used to collect and store rainwater runoff from roofs to be used for many environmental reasons. This water is used to wash cars, water gardens or in agricultural operations, especially in places where rainfall is scarce. Rainwater collection is an ancient practice that is seeing newfound attention among conservationists all across the globe. Many attribute this to the rapidly changing climate and challenges that are associated with maintaining a steady water source in times of extremes. “Even though we have a lot of snow now,” explains Mrs. Lohner, “that doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a drought in July or August, so if you can collect what little rain there is, you’ll have it when you need it.”

Although it is now beyond a doubt among climate scientists that the climate is significantly shifting, public acceptance of this reality lags. Currently, many public schools face pushback against teaching the latest climate science in the classroom. Some of the students in Lohner’s environmental club experienced disapproval from community members when trying to share ways to conserve home energy or resources. Recently, an outraged person called into a local television station after a segment aired about the rain barrel project to complain about the school wasting tax dollars and time on unimportant issues. Danielle Spewak was eager to clear up this misunderstanding. “We meet after school on our own time. All of the materials were paid for from a grant, even the paint we used.”

Even in the face of such opposition, the resolve of each student was obvious. The passion and enthusiasm to make our tiny part of the world a better place was palpable in Lohner’s classroom.

All are welcome to bid on the rain barrels between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 at the Hawley Earth Fest in Hawley, PA.

[Editor’s note: This spring, the Pike/Wayne Conservation Partnership will host a series of educational programs on topics including water conservation, non-point source pollution, best management practices to assist with stormwater management, water quality and testing, native plants of our region, green cleaning and home energy efficiency tips. For a program list, see]