Festival & Events

Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival

The 2021 Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival was held virtually from April 1 - June 1.
44 teachers from 30 schools participated with approximately 1,250 students.

2021 Virtual Sponsors
Main Sponsor: Central Platte Natural Resources District
Awesome Aquifer Adventurer ($4,000-$1,000):  City of Grand Island Utilities Department  |  Fred Otradovsky  | Kaufmann-Cummings Foundation
Babbling Brook Benefactor ($499-$250):  CommonSpirit- CHI Health Grand Island
Supreme Springwater Supporter ($249-$100):  Grand Island Abstract Escrow & Title Co  |  Kiwanis Club of Grand Island
Seim Irrigation & Well Drilling |  Upper Loup Natural Resources District   |   Donna Wanitschke  |  Wenzl Construction Inc
Festival Friend ($99-$35):  Roger and June Andrews  |  Roger and Julie Frandsen  |  Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District

1. A Crumpled Watershed  presented by Nebraska Extension                                       
Students will learn how to make a watershed model to understand what a watershed is and how water runs off properties into streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

2. Awesome Aquifers  presented by Natural Resources Conservation Service                      
Students will learn how to construct an aquifer model to learn about the location, size and function of the High Plains Aquifer, how it is recharged, potential effects of aquifer contaminants, and how important the aquifer is to our lives.

3. Bottle Bee Hotels  presented by Central Community College                                           
Students will create nesting habitat for solitary pollinating insects using an upcycled plastic bottle, cardboard straws, twine, and paint for decorating.  Native pollinating insects and bees are beneficial to overall healthy ecosystems, and in particular native plant growth.  Also, native insects including bees are beneficial to the overall diverse insect health, reducing the need to spray harmful insecticides that pollutes our groundwater.

4.  Critter Cube Count  presented by Izaak Walton League                                                      
Students (4 per group) will use art skills to cut/glue macroinvertebrates onto toy blocks and then roll blocks to identify macroinvertebrates that turn up. They’ll use math to determine the health of a stream and how it affects groundwater.

5. Groundwater: It’s In What You Drink  presented by Ensign Beverage                                           
Ever wonder how tea and kombucha are made? We’ll tour the brewing facility located in Hastings, NE. Students will see how groundwater is in everything we drink.  Tour includes: brewing tanks, ingredients, brewing process and students will see finished products closeup.

6. H2O and the 3 Rs  presented by Keep Loup Basin Beautiful                                                        
Students will learn about trash/debris and discover how proper recycling practices affect the groundwater system. They will also learn about the Ogallala Aquifer and how much trash each household produces daily.

7. How Wetlands Work  presented by Ducks Unlimited                                                              
Students will participate in a demonstration of how wetlands positively impact peoples’ lives every day by preventing flooding, filtering pollutants, protecting clean drinking water, recharging groundwater and rivers; as well as the importance of wetlands as habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

8. Rain Stick Rattles  presented by Noyes Art Gallery                                                                  
Students will learn groundwater facts, learn a song, make a rainstick rattle, think about recycling items to make art, how to brush their teeth using very little water.

9. Seed Bombs for Meadow Pollinators  presented by The Crane Trust                                   
Pollinator populations, like Monarch butterflies & bumblebees, are declining in North America. Humans rely on pollinators to initiate fruit production in many of the foods that we eat.  One way to help save pollinators is to plant native plants to create habitat for them, even in your own backyard. We’ll use wetted clay, potting soil & native seeds to create seed bombs that can be distributed to create more flowering resources for our pollinators.

10. The Raptor Connection  presented by Raptor Conservation Alliance                                      
Students will learn how surface water and groundwater are interconnected. While surface water (ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc.) are obviously important for all wildlife; groundwater feeds the plants and habitats that all life depends on for sustenance and cover.

11. Water Cycle Bingo  presented by Hall County 4-H
W-A-T-E-R: Students will learn the pieces that make up the water cycle from evaporation to precipitation.

The success of the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival is possible only with the support of dedicated educators! Knowledge and time incorporating these activities for students is appreciated. It’s our aspiration that students will carry the groundwater concepts back to their families, friends, and communities—further expanding our groundwater education efforts.

Would your school like to participate in the Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival?
Call (308) 385-6282 or email: Marcia Lee  lee@cpnrd.org   |   Brody Vorderstrasse brody@cpnrd.org

Funding for Supplies

The Festival Committee is offering up to $150 reimbursement for schools to purchase supplies for the activities. To receive reimbursement, send the attached Reimbursement Request Form with a copy of your receipt(s).

Reimbursement Form accepted until June 15, 2021.

Reimbursement Form

Flagship Event

Held in Grand Island, Nebraska since 1988, the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival was the first to be formed nationally and has been replicated in 42 states in the U.S. and in Mexico, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom.

The Festival is held each May at the Central Community College and College Park in Grand Island. The festival reinforces groundwater quality, groundwater quantity and natural resources education that students receive by bringing 50 water and natural resources professionals together to teach up to 1,000 5th-grade students in one day. Approximately 125 volunteers from surrounding communities and businesses volunteer for the event.

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 their behavior in groundwater protection. In 2019, the Festival received the local and national Izaak Walton League of America Roll Call awards for educating over 30,000 youth in 30 years.


The focus of the festival is to provide students with hands-on, active learning experiences to gain knowledge about the sources of groundwater, permeation of the soil, the scarcity of groundwater and its vulnerability to pollution. The festival uses stage show presentations, classroom activities and educational games to create student interest and awareness of groundwater issues.

Target Audience

All Nebraska 5th-grade teachers are invited to attend. Approximately 1,000 children from 45 schools participate in the festival each year. The remaining schools that request attendance are invited the following year.


Experts in the fields of water and natural resources are invited to present at the festival, as well as school groups studying groundwater as part of their curriculum. Following are some of the organizations that present:

Natural Resources Conservation Service
Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts
U.S. Geological Survey
University of Nebraska
Central Community College- Grand Island, Columbus
Nebraska Extension Offices
Cargill Team Blair
City of Grand Island
Stuhr Museum
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Nebraska Health & Human Services
Nebraska Water Environment Association
Nebraska Section American Water Works Association
Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Nebraska Public Power District
Nebraska Well Drillers Association
Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary
The Groundwater Foundation
The Crane Trust
Raptor Conservation Alliance
Hall County 4-H
Nebraska Corn Board
Nebraska Weed Control Association
Meridian Enrichment Program
Ducks Unlimited
Grand Island Groundwater Guardian Team
Grand Island Area Clean Community System
Central District Health Department
Noyes Art Gallery
National Weather Service
Olsson Engineering
Izaak Walton League
Ensign Beverage
Keep Loup Basin Beautiful
Local high schools: Grand Island Senior High, GI Central Catholic, Doniphan-Trumbull, Hastings


The Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival Committee is comprised of the Central Platte NRD, the Grand Island Groundwater Guardian Team, Central Community College and College Park in Grand Island, Grand Island Utility Department, Bureau of Reclamation, other organizations and citizens who believe in educating youth about groundwater conservation and protection.


Marcia Lee, Brody Vorderstrasse, Kelly Cole - Central Platte NRD


Roger Andrews- GI Groundwater Guardian Team
Rob Briseno- Central Community College
Karen Cox- Central Community College
Julie Frandsen-  GI Groundwater Guardian Team
Liz Gerberding- Volunteer
Jan Tell- Retired Teacher



The Festival is supported by the following businesses and individuals. The Central Community College and College Park of Grand Island provide their facilities at no charge.

Main Sponsor ($10,000)
Central Platte Natural Resources District-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor

Awesome Aquifer Adventurer ($4,000 - $1,000)
City of Grand Island Utilities Department-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Fred Otradovsky -2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Kaufmann-Cummings Foundation- 2021 Virtual Event Sponsor

Legendary Lake League ($999 - $500)
Lower Loup Natural Resources District

Babbling Brook Benefactor ($499 - $250)
Copycat Printing and Signs
Hiland Dairy Foods
CommonSpirit CHI Health-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Lee‘s Family Restaurant
Grand Island Rotary Club
Pepsi Bottling Group of G.I.

Supreme Springwater Supporter ($249 - $100)
CNH Industrial Foundation
Donna Wanitschke-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Grand Island Abstract Escrow & Title Company-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Kiwanis Club of Grand Island-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Seim Irrigation & Well Drilling-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Upper Loup Natural Resources District-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Wenzl Construction Inc-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor

Festival Friend ($99 - $35)
Roger and June Andrews-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Coca-Cola of Grand Island
Virginia Good
Roger and Julie Frandsen-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor
Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District-2021 Virtual Event Sponsor

Free Arbor Day Seedlings

Arbor Day is Friday, April 30. Central Platte NRD will be providing free Chokecherry shrub seedlings to students to help celebrate this Nebraska-born holiday. The seedlings are 6”-12” tall and will be contained in plastic bags for students to take home. Planting instructions will also be provided. Central Platte NRD staff will deliver the seedlings to your school.

To order contact Marcia Lee at lee@cpnrd.org or call 308-385-6282.  Include the following information:

  • Teacher Name(s)
  • Number of seedlings per classroom
  • Phone
  • Email
  • School address

Adventure Camp About the Environment (ACE)

This camp is hosted by Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts for youth who have completed 6th, 7th & 8th grade in the 2020-2021 school year. It includes four days of exploring, learning, and outdoor fun including tubing, zip line, water rockets, and more!


Dates & Location:
June 6th-9th, 2021, at the State 4-H Camp in Halsey, Nebraska

Camp Cost:  $225. The fee & registration form need to be sent to the Upper Loup NRD by May 21, 2021.
Central Platte NRD provides $100 scholarships towards the registration fee if you reside within the District. Contact Marcia Lee at (308) 385-6282 or lee@cpnrd.org.    CAMP SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION

Arrival & Departure: Arrive at 4:00 PM CT on Sunday, June 6th. Camp  ends at 2:30 PM CT on Wednesday, June 9th. Once the registration form has been received, additional information will be sent to campers.  Transportation to and from camp is the parent’s responsibility. Please arrive promptly with your campers.  Check in will begin no earlier than 4 PM CT.



Tour the Bessey Nursery and check out the seed bank, coolers and greenhouses. Learn about transplanting seedlings and get your very own plant!


Try your hand at making an ancient throwing tool! You will learn why and how these tools were used by humans throughout history.


Thousands of species of insects reside in our state of Nebraska. Explore the camp and see what species you can find during the entomology session!


Rangelands cover 45% of Earth’s land surface. Campers will learn about different aspects of the ecosystem as well as how they relate to rangelands. Prepare for an energetic activity as campers will get to explore the Nebraska Sandhills.


Water is one of the most important natural resources. Jump in the Middle Loup River and learn about water quality and aquatic macro-invertebrates firsthand! Beats any classroom science class!


Spend some time on the banks of the Middle Loup River and see what you can reel in! Learn different techniques and what it takes to be a master angler and with some friendly competition maybe you can reel in the biggest catch!


Conduct a fun filled lab focusing on various kinds of erosion common to soils in a variety of situations!

Education Partners

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts
Nebraska Association of Resources Districts
Nebraska National Forest/Bessey Nursery
Nebraska Game & Parks Commission
Nebraska Forest Service
Nebraska State 4-H Camp
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Find us on Facebook:  Adventure Camp about the   Environment

Your CPNRD Contact: Marcia Lee at lee@cpnrd.org308-385-6282