Festival & Events

Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival

Tuesday, May 14, 2024         8:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.    Central Community College & College Park, Grand Island


SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER! Join the Central Platte NRD as we host over 700 of Nebraska's youth at the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival. Help students discover the importance of groundwater in Nebraska!  Sign up to volunteer by calling 308-385-6282 or download the volunteer form below to make a difference in the lives of young learners.

   Volunteer Form            T-SHIRT ORDER FORM        

Schools from 17 Counties to Attend on May 14

The Central Platte Natural Resources District is excited to host the annual Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival, featuring 36 school groups from 17 counties. The event will take place on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at the Central Community College and College Park campuses in Grand Island, Nebraska.  With over 700 fifth-grade students expected to attend, the festival will offer a day filled with educational experiences focused on groundwater and its significance to Nebraska. Students will participate in six hands-on classroom-style activities, attend two stage shows, and interact with professionals from 36 water and natural resources organizations.

Activities and Learning Opportunities
The festival will cover a range of topics related to groundwater, including aquifers, floodplains, watersheds, stream health, wildlife, ecosystems, wetlands, stormwater, wastewater, groundwater for agriculture, soil health, and more. Volunteers and presenters will guide students through these activities to ensure an engaging experience.

Activity Locations and Schedules
The Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival activities will take place across the Central Community College (CCC) and College Park (CP) campuses. Eight activities will be held outdoors, with the rest located indoors. For detailed information on activities, room numbers, and presenters, please refer to the attached 2024 Program_Activities (PDF).


From the largest class at Pershing (Lexington) with 160 students…to the coziest class at Riverside (Spalding) with 5 students.
Look Who's Coming...

  • Dodge Elementary, Hall (3 classes)
  • Centennial Elementary, Seward
  • Anthony Elementary, Platte
  • Emmanuel-Faith Lutheran, York
  • Humphrey St. Francis, Platte
  • Litchfield Elementary, Sherman
  • Pershing Elementary, Dawson (9 classes)
  • Riverside Elementary, Boone
  • Sandhills Elementary, Blaine
  • Eustis-Farnam Elementary, Frontier
  • Red Cloud Elementary, Webster
  • Ord Elementary, Valley (3 classes)
  • Superior Elementary, Nuckolls
  • Shell Creek, Platte (2 classes)
  • Edward Elementary, Boone
  • Bryan Elementary, Dawson (3 classes)
  • Axtell Elementary, Kearney
  • Kenesaw Elementary, Adams (2 classes)
  • Paul Elementary, Howard (2 classes)
  • Sandy Creek Elementary, Clay
  • Hitchcock County, Hitchcock

Donate to the Groundwater Festival

The Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID #: 47-6032570
Funds are administered by the Grand Island Community Foundation.

Mail Checks:   Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival, 215 Kaufman Ave. Grand Island, NE 68803

Online:  You can donate on the Grand Island Community Foundation's website at: https://gicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list?showlist=1
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "show all funds list"  show all funds list
  • Then scroll back up to  Groundwater Festival General Fund
In-Kind:           To provide in-kind donations for sack lunches or other Festival needs contact:  Marcia Lee, Festival Coordinator
O: 308-385-6282  |  Direct Line: 308-395-7551  |  E: lee@cpnrd.org

2024 Sponsors
Main Sponsor ($10,000)

Central Platte Natural Resources District

Awesome Aquifer Adventurer ($1,000 - $5,000)
Fred Otradovsky
Hunter Industries/Senninger

Legendary Lake Leaguer ($400 - $999)
Lower Loup Natural Resources District

Babbling Brook Benefactor ($250 - $399)
Copycat Printing and Signs
Coca-Cola of Grand Island
Grand Island Rotary
NEDELCO Inc/DBA Hamilton Communications
Olsson Inc
Pepsi Beverages Company-Grand Island
The Daughtery Water for Food Global Institute
The Groundwater Foundation

Supreme Springwater Supporter ($100 - $249)
Agricultural Services Inc
CHI Health St. Francis
General Collection Company Inc.
Kiwanis Club of Grand Island
Little Blue Natural Resources District
Sam‘s Club of Grand Island
Super Saver - Grand Island State Street
Walmart North of Grand Island
Wanitschke Family
Wenzl Construction

Festival Friend ($0 - $99)
Lee’s Family Restaurant
Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District
Walmart South of Grand Island
Super Saver - Grand Island Second Street

Central Community College & College Park provide their facilities and staff time at no cost.


Lee Named 2023 Educator of the Year by Project WET/Project Learning Tree
Marcia and the Central Platte NRD staff utilize Project WET curriculum in coordinating the Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival & for classroom activities, nature clubs, outdoor classrooms & community events.  Read more...

2023 Festival: 17 Schools Across Nebraska Attended the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival
Central Platte NRD hosted 36 school groups from across the state for the Groundwater Festival on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at the Central Community College & College Park campuses in Grand Island.  780 fifth-grade students from 17 schools learned about all aspects of groundwater and its importance to Nebraska by attending six in-depth activities in a classroom-style setting and a stage show. Thank you to the 100 water/natural resources presenters and 120 volunteers including:
- Alyssa Bair, Barr Middle School National Junior Honor Society, brought 25 students to assist as classroom guides and in the lunch room.
- Dr. Lauren Schumacher, Academy/Pathway Teacher, brought 30 Grand Island Senior High students to assist presenters.

*2 stage shows are entertaining and interactive, with a high level of energy. Up to 300 students/session.
*30 interactive activities. These 25-minute classroom-style presentations are held at both campuses with up to 32 students per session.

Since 1988, the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival has supplemented 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.  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 U.S.A., Mexico, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom.
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

Nebraska's NRDs have helped landowners plant more than 100 million trees since our inception in 1972! Central Platte NRD offers free tree seedlings from late April through May to classrooms/youth groups to help celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day.

Species available for these celebrations include Ponderosa Pine and Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings. These native seedlings are 6”-12” tall from Halsey National Forest. Planting instructions are provided with your seedlings. Central Platte NRD staff deliver the seedlings at no charge to your school and provide an Arbor Day or Earth Day activity if requested. Call or email to reserve seedlings and/or schedule an activity.

Include the following information with your order:
* Teacher Name(s)
* Number of seedlings per classroom
* Phone
* Email
* School address

Your CPNRD Contacts:    Brody Vorderstrasse- brody@cpnrd.org  |  (308) 395-7590    or  Marcia Lee (308) 395-7551  |  lee@cpnrd.org

AquaVentures Summer Camp
with Central Platte NRD & Groundwater Guardians

Wednesdays 9:30-11:30 a.m.   July 3, 2024 – July 31, 2024
Raising Nebraska Building, 501 E Fonner Park Road, Grand Island, NE 

Get ready for a splash-tastic summer camp all about water! These Wednesday morning day camp sessions are for ages 9-12 and provided by the Central Platte NRD and Groundwater Guardians. Each day will be different, so sign up for all of them!
July 3    "Rainwater Run"
Participate in a green/gray relay and take a stormwater walk to learn the difference between green and gray infrastructure.

July 10   "A River of Water & Pollution Zone"
Build your own aquifer and then use an Enviroscape to learn about water pollution.

July 24   "Just a Drop of Water"
Experiment to explore how much water is on the planet…then take an incredible journey as a water drop to create your own bracelet.

July 31   "Watershed Mayhem & Splash Blasters"
Connect water and construction within cities with an Enviroscape model. To finish your camp, you’ll get to build a water rocket and launch it outside!

Registration is $10 for all four sessions!
You can choose to register for 1, 2, 3, or all 4 sessions.

Registration link:  https://cvent.me/z1KyDl


Adventure Camp About the Environment (ACE)

CPNRD ACE Scholarship2024

Nebraska’s NRDs annually host the Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE). ACE is open to students who have completed 6th, 7th or 8th grade and want to learn more about natural resources. The areas campers will learn about aquatics, forestry, range ecology, wildlife & soils/land use.

2024 ACE is scheduled for June 23-26 (Sunday-Wednesday) at Camp Kaleo in Burwell, NE. Campers will experience hands-on activities with a variety of speakers and explore possible careers in natural resources. It includes adventurous activities for campers such as a zipline, tanking & tubing, a campfire and many other games!

Registration  $235/camper and includes meals, lodging & activities. Central Platte NRD provides $130 towards registration for any youth residing within the District.


Submit the scholarship application to Central Platte NRD. Once your scholarship application is received, you will be notified regarding application approval; and Central Platte NRD will send $135 towards your registration to Upper Loup NRD reducing your registration fee to $100.
Submit application to Marcia Lee:  lee@cpnrd.org  |  (308) 385-6285   |  Central Platte NRD, 215 Kaufman Ave, Grand Island, NE 68803

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.

Arrival & Departure:  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.
Education Partners
Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, 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.org308-395-7551

Nebraska Range Camp

Range Camp is for students between the ages of 14-18. The camp’s dynamic curriculum appeals to students with a wide array of interests including, but not limited to, rangeland management, conservation, ecology, animal science, and wildlife. Students who attend this camp will be actively involved with field activities, lectures, hands-on experience, recreational leadership, & team-building activities.  Central Platte NRD will reimburse qualified students in the amount of $100 after confirmation from the Society of Range Management that the students have attended the full camp.  CPNRD will request a list of camp attendees from the SRM and mail the sponsorship check to the parent listed on the registration form.  Students must request sponsorship prior to attending the camp by providing a copy of their registration form to Marcia Lee.

Contact Marcia Lee at (308) 385-6282 or lee@cpnrd.org for details on the summer camps, scholarships, or range camps.

Summer Camp Scholarships  

The Central Platte NRD provides $135 scholarships for middle and high school students interested in attending natural resources-related summer camps like ACE, SOAR, and Range Judging camps. These scholarships aim to help cover registration costs for approved summer camps.

The only eligibility requirement is that students must live within the Central Platte NRD (map).


For more information on how to receive a summer camp scholarship for other camps, email Marcia  lee@cpnrd.org | call (308) 385-6282