Festival & Events

Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival

The Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival will held on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.  Fifth-grade students participate in six in-depth classes and a stage show that reinforce groundwater quality and quantity, natural resources and wildlife education. Nearly 50 water and natural resources professionals present activities.

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. The Children’s Groundwater Festival was the first groundwater festival to be formed nationally and has been replicated in 42 states in the U.S. and in Mexico, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom since 1988. In 2019, the Festival received the local and national Izaak Walton League of America Roll Call awards for educating over 32,000 youth since 1985.


Fill out the Registration Form below to participate in 2023.  There is no registration fee and lunch is provided at no cost to students, teachers and chaperones.
LOCATION: Central Community College & College Park in Grand Island, Nebraska.



If you are as excited about groundwater education as we are—please sign up to volunteer. You’ll have the opportunity to help students discover how important groundwater is to Nebraska and their role in groundwater stewardship. Volunteers opportunities: school guides, classroom activity assistants, registration desk, set-up on Monday, clean up and other duties. Approximately 75 volunteers from surrounding communities and businesses help with this educational event.  You'll benefit, too! Many of our volunteers have told us how much fun they have meeting kids from different parts of Nebraska and experiencing the fun Festival activities and performances. We’re so grateful for the many volunteers who return to help us, as well as new volunteers we add to our team.  As a thank you for your assistance at the Festival, you’ll receive a free Festival t-shirt, donuts and lunch.

VOLUNTEER FORM    T-Shirt Order Form

Would you or your organization like to present an activity?

PRESENTER FORM    T-Shirt Order Form

Activity Details
*Length  All sessions are 25 minutes with a five-minute break between sessions. The location of your activity will be based on your activity needs: such as access to water, computers, outside activity, extra space, etc.  Be sure to indicate these or any other special needs on your presenter form.
*Classroom Activity   You will teach 25-30 students per session and present up to 8 sessions staggered throughout the day.  Request volunteers on your presenter form if you anticipate needing extra help.
*Logistics   Guides, teachers, and chaperones accompany each group. To allow you plenty of time to plan your activity, you’ll receive a schedule in early April with your presentation start times, # of students/session, and names of teachers/schools for each session.

  • HANDS-ON: Provide hands-on activities! Plan to involve ALL students with an activity using physical involvement and brains-on thinking.  (Do not teach to them, involve them.) Engage students and they will remember the concepts taught during your session!
  • MAKE GROUNDWATER CONNECTION: Although your activity may teach about another resource or topic (river, wildlife, agriculture), remember to tell them the connection it has to groundwater.  Attached you will find a list of groundwater concepts to help you make the groundwater connection and a list of subject areas in which groundwater concepts could be taught.  Please call us if you would like help developing an activity idea. We have numerous activity ideas to share.
  • 5th GRADE ACTIVITIES:   Keep vocabulary and concepts SIMPLE.  If you are not sure, test your activity with a local classroom, scout troop, or a 11-year old neighbor.
  • FUN & INTERESTING: Use your imagination! Bring interesting equipment, models, or gadgets.  Wear a wacky costume or hat. Create an activity that uses all the senses. Show students your enthusiasm and they will respond with a genuine interest in learning about groundwater.

Twenty schools including 37 school groups participated in 2022.
See schools that attended, presenters, activities and sponsors here.


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.

To learn more call (308) 385-6282 or email: Marcia Lee  lee@cpnrd.org   |   Brody Vorderstrasse brody@cpnrd.org

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.

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.

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.

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/Earth Day Seedlings

Central Platte NRD is offering free tree seedlings from late April through May to classrooms/youth groups to help celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day.
The Ponderosa Pine and Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings are 6”-12” tall and are ordered from Halsey National Forest. Plastic bags with planting instructions are provided. CPNRD staff will deliver the seedlings to your school and provide an activity if requested.

Call or email to reserve seedlings and/or schedule an activity.
Your CPNRD Contact: Brody Vorderstrasse (308) 385-6282 | brody@cpnrd.org

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 middle school youth who have completed 6-8 grades. It includes four days of exploring, learning, and outdoor fun including tubing, zip line, water rockets, and more!

Dates & Location:
The camp will not be held in 2023. NRD staff are currently visiting sites to host the ACE camp. In the past, it was held at the State 4-H Camp in Halsey, Nebraska; which was destroyed by a fire in 2022. Updates will be provided here and sent to the media statewide.

Camp Cost: $235. The fee & registration form need to be sent to the Upper Loup NRD.
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.    CPNRD ACE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION

Arrival & Departure:  Sunday - Wednesday. Once the registration form is received, additional information is 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.

Camp Core Sessions
Forestry  Get the chance to learn about forestry in North America’s largest man-made forest.
Water  Jump in the Middle Loup River to discover macroinvertebrates and what goes on in our water systems.
Range  What better place to learn about our range ecosystems than in Nebraska’s National Grassland.
Soils  Sand, clay, silt, loam..Nebraska is full of different soils to explore!
Wildlife Campers will be able to learn about our state’s wildlife in a hands on atmosphere.

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