New Nonprofit Teaches Children about Responsible Water Use

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Water Institute for Sustainability Education (WISE) brings resource expertise to students, educators and professionals across US

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Clean water is not a given.

The Water Institute for Sustainability Education (WISE) is a new nonprofit created to spread awareness about water resource management in elementary school classrooms from Vermont to Hawaii. WISE is a joint venture founded by educator Anne Orellana Whitney, civil and environmental engineer Dave Whitney of EcoSolutions, and ecological designer Lauren Roth Venu of Hawaii-based Roth Ecological Design International (REDI).

With a focus on water resources, water rights and cultural perspectives, WISE creates teaching tools and resources for educators, students, homeowners and professionals to develop low impact design (LID) concepts for waste and storm water issues.

To integrate sustainability education into elementary students’ core curriculum, WISE is developing a twelve-lesson unit called the H2O Sustainability Class derived from the course Dave Whitney teaches at the University of Vermont, but modified into terms that students as young as second grade can understand.

WISE’s H2O Sustainability Class is currently being introduced at Westford Elementary School in Westford, Vermont to teach second grade students about properties of water, the hydrologic cycle, LID water system design concepts, and seasonal topics. During the class’s first unit, students received a tour of their school’s water system, giving them a first-hand look at where their fresh potable water comes from, where their waste water goes, and introducing them to the materials used to create water systems and the people who manage and maintain the system.

“Clean water is not a given,” says Anne Orellana Whitney, co-founder of WISE. “By teaching children at a young age about sustainable resource management through project based learning, we believe we can make responsible water usage and treatment as well-understood and widely accepted in the United States as recycling bottles and cans.”

In Maui, Hawaii, WISE is working with the Sustainable Living Institute Maui (SLIM) at the University of Hawaii-Maui College to use rain garden technology to integrate community gardening and ecological storm water treatment, and to recharge fresh water on site. Grant money from the Frost Family Foundation will fund a pilot program for educators to learn about and help build a rain garden—a process that will help them to better understand the importance of the hydrologic cycle and the human impact on it.

For more information on WISE and its projects in Vermont and Hawaii, visit or contact Anne Orellana Whitney via email at anne(at)ecosoldesigns(dot)com.


EcoSolutions is a civil engineering and ecological planning design-build firm delivering sustainable, ecologically based designs and thoughtful, creative solutions to significant wastewater, stormwater and site challenges with Low Impact Designs and Green Building.

For more information, visit, ‘Like’ EcoSolutions on Facebook, follow on Twitter @EcoSolutionsSVS, connect on LinkedIn, and follow on Instagram @EcoSolDesigns

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