Soil Health Featured at Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival

Soil Health Featured at Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival


GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska - Soil is the Skin of the World is just one activity that will focus on soil health and it’s affects on water quality at the 2022 Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival on Tuesday, May 17th. USDA/NRCS State Soil Scientist, Aaron Hird, said his activity will allow students to "get their hands in the dirt to build their own Soil Profile Card with live demonstrations.“ Hird is also bringing real soil visual aides for the students to see up close.

Benjamin Newton, with the Central Community College (CCC) Environmental Sustainability Office, will lead an activity at CCC’s garden on the east side of the Center for Industry & Technology building. Students will engage in multiple stations at the garden to learn about soil erosion, native plants, soil quality, pollinators and rain gardens.  CCC’s garden has more than 25 different types of native plants.

The Nebraska Extension’s Elizabeth Exstrom will get students up and moving in a “Green/Gray Relay Race“ to learn the relationship of non-point source pollution to soil and groundwater interaction.


Thirty-five school groups from across the state will attend the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at the Central Community College and College Park campuses in Grand Island, NE.

Central Platte Natural Resources District will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary by hosting 700 fifth-grade students from 20 schools, 80 presenters and 120 volunteers.

Each school will learn about all aspects of groundwater and it’s importance to Nebraska by attending six in-depth activities in a classroom-style setting and a stage show.


Media Packets will be available at both CCC and College Park campuses.  Packets will include a program and maps of the campuses.  Each activity has a schedule posted outside of their room. You are welcome to visit the classrooms, even if they are in session.   Activities will take place from 8:30 a.m.- 3:10 p.m. in both Central Community College & College Park campuses. 

Review the attached Festival Program. If you‘re interested in receiving a specific school schedule or presenter schedule, contact Marcia Lee or Brody Vorderstrasse at (308) 385-6282 or email lee [at] or brody [at]  

Contact #s the day of the Festival: Marcia (308) 380-1220, Brody (402) 469-9319 


  • Ansley
  • Central Valley  - Scotia
  • Dodge – Grand Island (3 classes)
  • Doniphan  (2 classes)
  • Emmanuel Faith Lutheran – York
  • Engleman – Grand Island (4 classes)
  • Harvard
  • Humphrey St Francis
  • Litchfield
  • North Park  (3 classes)
  • Ord (2 classes)
  • Platte Center (2 classes)- Columbus
  • Sandy Creek - Fairfield
  • Seedling Mile – Grand Island
  • Shoemaker – Grand Island (3 classes)
  • St Anthony's - Columbus
  • St Paul (3 classes)
  • Stuart
  • Superior (2 classes)
  • Trinity Lutheran – Grand Island


The two stage shows are entertaining and interactive, with a high level of energy. Up to 300 students/session.

  • Mime, Masks & the Magic of Groundwater Stageshow
    • Fax Gilbert performs skills of mime, magic, masks and comedy to teach and inspire students about groundwater.
  • The Raptor Connection (CCC 355-Cafeteria)  Raptor Conservation Alliance
    • Students meet live raptors up close and learn how raptors are dependent upon groundwater and surface water for food, shelter and nesting.

There are 27 classroom activities. These 25-minute classroom-style presentations are held at both campuses with up to 30 students per session. Below are just a few of the activities:

Awesome Aquifers (CCC 457) U.S. Geological Survey 
Learn how surface water and groundwater interact and how external factors like pumping and contamination affect them.

Consequences of Unpurified Water (CCC 452) Stuhr Museum
Historical-based activity. Students act as pioneers who travel along the trail and encounter different drinking water choices.

Critter Cube Count (CCC 522) Grand Island Izaak Walton League
Students will role dice to identify macroinvertebrate, then use math to calculate the health of a stream and how if affects groundwater.

Gooey Garbage (CP Ext. Room 2) Upper Big Blue NRD 
Students create a model landfill to discuss precipitation, percolation and leachate to learn how important it is to protect groundwater from contamination.

How Wetlands Work (CCC 312) Ducks Unlimited

Students create their own wetland and learn how they help people every day by preventing flooding, pollution and replenishing groundwater supplies.


Central Platte NRD is the main sponsor of the event by providing $10,000 in financial support and two staff members that coordinate the event.  The Festival fundraises an additional $10,000 to allow students to attend the festival at no cost.  2022 Sponsors:

City of Grand Island Utilities Department, Fred Otradovsky, Hornady Manufacturing Company, Lower Loup Natural Resources District, Copycat Printing and Signs, Coca-Cola of Grand Island, Donna Wanitschke, Kiwanis Club of Grand Island, Sam’s Club of Grand Island, Walmart North of Grand Island, Roger and Julie Frandsen, Hy-Vee of Grand Island, Lee’s Family Restaurant, Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District, Bryan and Sue Powell, Super Saver -  Five Points, Super Saver -  2nd Street


*Each school attending is sent a pre-test that has questions ranging from simple to difficult regarding groundwater and natural resources with a combination of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and true/false sections.   After attending the Festival, instructors are asked to give the post-test to the students.  Based on pre/post test results, evaluations, and a behavioral impact study, the festival has demonstrated its positive impact on children’s awareness, knowledge, and ultimately behavior, in groundwater protection.


The Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival supplements groundwater education that students receive through their school curriculum by providing an event where professionals teach hundreds of students in one day. Over 31,000 students have been educated at the Festival since 1988. This event was the first groundwater festival to be formed nationally.  The Nebraska Children‘s Groundwater Festival has been replicated in 42 states in the USA, Mexico, Canada, India & United Kingdom.