Over 200 students from six northern Idaho high schools will present their research and solutions to local water resource issues at the Youth Water Summit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, May 15th at North Idaho College.

The Youth Water Summit is the culminating event of the year-long Confluence Project, where students present their science research projects. These projects are designed to highlight solutions to local water resource or climate issues that students have observed in their communities through the field experiences provided in The Confluence Project.

The Youth Water Summit will showcase what these students have learned after a year of field-based and project-based learning in their local watersheds. Students have worked with scientists and professionals at the University of Idaho Water Resource Center, Kootenai Environmental Alliance, The Lands Council, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and other local partners to learn about water quality, water availability, snow science, agriculture and aquatic habitats via field investigations and data collection and analysis.

After a year of honing their investigative skills, participating students selected local watershed issues to research that are of importance to them, their communities and the broader ecosystem. Once they gained a thorough scientific understanding of the issues, they were challenged to propose solutions.

The Youth Water Summit gives students the opportunity to experience a professional scientific conference and learn about higher education opportunities.

Jim Ekins, one of The Confluence Project’s supporting partners, said the diversity of project topics and the creativity behind the students’ solutions is impressive.

“The Confluence Project is amazing because it gives students an opportunity to do hands-on field-based science, take full ownership of the process by conducting their own relevant research, and having a forum to convey those ideas to practicing scientists, graduate students and the wider community at the Youth Water Summit,” Ekins said.

The summit will feature an exhibition of student research projects from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Building. The displays are open to the public. Science classes from Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Lake City, Moscow, Lakeside, Lake Pend Oreille and Paradise Creek Regional High Schools will be in attendance.

Using a variety of media — from posters to phone apps to videos — students will present their findings on water resource topics such as the impact of declining snowpack on hydropower generation, the ability of wastewater treatment plants to handle growing populations and how to increase public engagement in these issues.

University administrators, professors and students, local water resource professionals, agency scientists, local politicians and others have volunteered to judge student projects.

“Connecting high school youth to local experts is incredibly powerful, and through this process we are able to enhance science education and critical thinking skills in participating classrooms,” said Laura Laumatia, Coeur d’Alene Tribe Lake Management Plan Coordinator.

“It is environmental education which can best help us as individuals make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health, and our own well-being. High school students are getting hands-on exposure to real issues affecting the watershed they live in and participating in investigating real solutions.” says Adrienne Cronebaugh, Kootenai Environmental Alliance.

For more information and to view the Youth Water Summit event schedule, go to http://kealliance.org/youth-water-summit/

The Youth Water Summit is supported by Kootenai Environmental Alliance, University of Idaho Water Resource Center, Idah2o Master Water Stewards, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho STEM Action Center.