4-H2O Leadership Academies
Each summer, newly-selected and veteran water ambassadors embark on week-long tours throughout Texas to experience its vast diversity of water resources and water issues. These tours, or 4-H2O Leadership Academies, allow youth to strengthen their understanding of the value of water to different regions of the state. Each year of service presents ambassadors to tour a different region and range of water issues. Youth who begin the program as a high school freshman, for example, can experience all four summer academies (Tier I - Tier IV).
The Tier I 4-H2O Leadership Academy is for all first-year ambassadors and is focused on central, southwest, High Plains, and the Panhandle of Texas. Youth learn about surface and groundwater law, water rights, hydrogeology, water quality testing, reservoir management, desalination and agricultural irrigation management. Ambassadors also take the Texas Stream Team Certification Course, explore John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, network with several groundwater conservation districts, and learn several hands-on water activities that they can lead in their communities!
The Tier II 4-H2O Leadership Academy is for youth beginning their second year of service. Ambassadors travel to Bryan, College Station, Somerville, Richmond, Galveston, and Lake Jackson. Youth learn about wastewater treatment, bacterial source tracking, aquaculture, land stewardship, and marine biology. Past experiences included a "swamp tour" at Caddo Lake, marine biology tour in Galveston Bay, beach hike at Galveston Island State Park, and a dolphin watching tour in Aransas Bay.
Water ambassadors starting their third year participate in the Tier III 4-H2O Leadership Academy. This tour begins in New Braunfels, Texas and moves to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Youth learn about river authorities, watershed protection efforts, LRGV agriculture, the Rio Grande River, international water issues, and the role of irrigation districts. Ambassadors also visit South Padre Island and learn about sea turtle rehabilitation efforts.
Water ambassadors starting their fourth year participate in the Tier IV 4-H2O Leadership Academy which begins in San Antonio and goes all the way to New Mexico. Traveling through Kerville, Sonora, Fort Stockton, El Paso, and Las Cruces, ambassadors learn all about water in West Texas. Youth learn about the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, water testing laboratories, Texas Parks and Wildlife partnerships, rainwater harvesting, the Texas Nature Conservancy, desalination, and weather modification. Youth get to experience Dolan Falls Preserve, Balmorhea State Park, and White Sands National Monument.