SPARTANBURG – Spartanburg Water System (SWS) is investing in the future of thousands of Spartanburg County students with a $12,606 grant.
With the grant money, the Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE) will launch a children’s nature exploration course called “SPACE to Learn” in spring 2021. This program will provide free outdoor learning opportunities along the Cottonwood Trail for Spartanburg County pre-K to high school students.
The program will provide an alternative, outside-the-box classroom for science teachers, homeschooling groups, and children’s organizations – and focus on the importance of preserving and caring for the Pacolet River Watershed.
Partnering with the John F. Green Spartanburg Science Center, the curriculum for this outside classroom field experience will include how the Pacolet Watershed impacts local families, what comes out of the tap, and how individual, every day choices affect our watershed.
The hope of this program is that teaching students about watershed topics, including the importance of water and wastewater treatment systems in protecting public health and the environment, will provide an impactful learning experience for the youth of Spartanburg County.
“Research has shown that teaching children in an outdoor space is more than a fun, novel experiences for kids – it actually helps them focus once they return to the classroom or virtual learning format,” said Elisa Mroz, Head of Montessori Academy of Spartanburg.
Additionally, as we’ve navigated COVID-19 and the challenges it’s presented, one thing the pandemic has spotlighted is the importance of outdoor recreation systems and their ability to connect people safely. With the statewide stay-at-home order enacted earlier this year, the community has realized the value of walkable green spaces and public nature areas.
Since the pandemic began in March, SPACE said its requests have doubled from groups searching for outdoor educational opportunities, including Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, church groups, preschools and elementary schools, and homeschooling groups.
“Due to an increasing need for fresh air and walkable green spaces, our public nature areas are being experienced by new users every day – an increase of 45% since March from an average daily usage of 225 to now 500,” said SPACE Executive Director Amanda Mathis.
With nearly 7,000 monthly guests – an increase from an average of 2,100 – Mathis said access to the trails is crucial.
“Our SPACE to Learn program will educate our youth on the importance of protecting the Pacolet River Basin and the need to conserve and preserve nature – not only for themselves but also future generations.”
On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, Spartanburg Water presented SPACE with a check, securing its partnership and helping to make the vision of the “SPACE to Learn” program a reality.
The Commission of Public Works of the City of Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District Commission each contributed $6,303 dollars for the 2021 calendar year – helping SPACE to continue its mission to promote, protect and preserve natural resources and open space in the Spartanburg community. Since it was formed in 1989, the nonprofit has protected over 5,000 acres in the Spartanburg region.
ABOUT SPARTANBURG WATER: Spartanburg Water, an award-winning utility, is comprised of Spartanburg Water System and Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District. It serves a population of nearly 200,000 within Spartanburg County, as well as others in parts of Greenville, Union and Cherokee counties. With the help of its dedicated team of nearly 300 employees, each day it produces an average of 25 million gallons of drinking water and cleans 14 million gallons of wastewater for its customers and community.
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