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 focused on central, southwest, High Plains, and Texas Panhandle. 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, get a behind-the-scenes tour of an actual desalination facility, take a cavern tour, and learn several hands-on water activities that they can lead in their communities!
The Tier II 4-H2O Leadership Academy (for youth beginning their second year of service) tours the Texas Gulf Coast. Youth learn about natural and constructed wetlands, coastal ecosystems, marine biology, and aquaculture. 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 south-central 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.
4-H Water Ambassadors in their fourth year of service participate in the Tier IV 4-H2O Leadership Academy. This experience will explore water resources and issues in far west Texas and eastern New Mexico.