Leaders of the Indiana Conservation Partners met April 30 to announce renovation plans for a pond at the Pathway to Water Quality exhibit at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Volunteers at the exhibit educate visitors about water conservation practices and how they can make a difference at home.
Leaders of the Indiana Conservation Partners met April 30 to announce renovation plans for a pond at the Pathway to Water Quality exhibit at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Volunteers at the exhibit educate visitors about water conservation practices and how they can make a difference at home.

INDIANAPOLIS — Volunteers at the Pathway to Water Quality exhibit have been teaching Indiana State Fair visitors about watersheds and conservation for 20 years.

To honor the tradition, leaders of the Indiana Conservation Partners announced plans to update one of the pathway’s ponds.

“We’re kicking off Stewardship Week by celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we’re doing this by restoring the front pond this year,” said DeeDee Sigler, communications director of Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “It is 20 years old, so it can use a facelift.”

Invasive plant species will be removed, the pond will be drained and restored and new plants will be added to the habitat.

Gov. Mike Pence declared Indiana Stewardship Week April 28 through May 5. According to the proclamation, less than 1 percent of water on earth is fresh water. It also states that the average person in the U.S. uses 70 gallons of water every day.

“The goal of Stewardship Week is to bring recognition to how people can take better care of natural resources,” Sigler said.

She noted that Stewardship Week coincides with Earth Day and Arbor Day, all events that serve a similar purpose.

Volunteers at the Pathway to Water Quality exhibit educate visitors about water conservation practices and how they can make a difference at home. “A lot of these practices are things people can do in their own backyard and land, and it can really make a difference for water quality,” said Becky Fletcher, public affairs specialist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Examples include not washing cars in the driveway, which can cause oils from the car to reach water. Fletcher also suggested using a rain barrel to catch water that can be used to water plants.

“We recognize that Pathway gets about 50,000 people who walk through here during the fair, and most of those people live in an urban or suburban environment,” she said. “So we want to share as many conservation practices that they can use to take home as we can. We also want to show them what farmers are doing to keep sediments from running off of the land and into the water.”

Sigler said that the Pathway to Water Quality exhibit was created out of a parking lot in 1993.

“It has grown into a beautiful park-like setting over the 20 years,” she said. “It is a model watershed, so we educate people on what a watershed is. We teach conservation practices, games and activities during the three weeks of the Indiana State Fair.”

The exhibit provides shade from the hot August sun and also offers gusts free water. Around 220 people volunteer from eight different organizations to staff the display during the fair.

“We always hear people say they didn’t know Pathway was here,” Sigler said. “So in some ways it’s still one of the best-kept secrets of the fair.”