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
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
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