by Samantha Anderson, Roaring Fork High School student
I enjoyed my experience with the Youth Water Leaders Team during the fall of 2019 with the Youth Water Leadership Program. I got to work on my speaking skills, learn more about the place I live, and be part of hosting and organizing the Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit.
This program gave me many opportunities to do cool things, like go on an Ecoflight and get interviewed by a writer for a newspaper. I was able to share my opinions with important people, and learn even more about our watershed. Being part of this team also helped me grow as a learner, a community member, and as a person. As a learner, my knowledge was greatly expanded through this program. As a community member, I learned more about what is going on around me and how I can affect it. As a person, I realized that I have more power than I would have ever thought because of this program. My favorite part of being on this team was going on an Ecoflight. I loved seeing our valley from above.
In our Youth Water Leader Team meetings, we had a few speakers come in and talk to us about important issues in our watershed. This was so we could be as informed as possible for the Summit. It was also a great way to learn more about water issues happening right now.
To make sure that elected officials and water policy-makers were coming to the Summit, we had to go invite them personally. I went to the Basalt and Carbondale town councils and made sure that they knew about the event. I was able to tell them why I thought the upcoming Summit was important and why they should come. Both of the town councils that I spoke to sent representatives to attend the Summit and I’m glad that I was able to convince them with my public speaking skills.
Before the Summit, we also had to organize interesting activities for the day. We decided on a climate ribbon tree, making prayer flags, a water footprint activity, a ‘where I use water’ map, and a yarn unity project web. All of these were successful and were good ways to fill the rest of the day. We also had to set up all of the rooms we were using in the Third Street Center. The Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit ended up being a success, even though we had some hiccups along the way.
My favorite part of the Summit was the second keynote speaker Barb Horn, founder of Colorado River Watch. She started her talk by having us write down the names of the three people we love most. She explained why community science has found some of the most important data that we have today. After she was done with that, she asked us if one of the people we wrote down was ourselves. Only two people in the audience stood up. That made me think about self-worth and how important it is.
Overall this program has given me skills and experiences that I will cherish forever. I recommend this program for anyone interested in our rivers, organizing big important events, and having amazing experiences.
Samantha Anderson is a 9th grader at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, Colorado. This was her first year participating in the Youth Water Leadership Team and she looks forward to being part of it next year.
Thank to Rios to Rivers for cover photo by Weston Boyles