Daisey talks about the water cycle with the fifth-grade students.

Ann Daisey, community conservationist with Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, recently commenced the annual Soil and Water Fifth-grade Bookmark Contest in the county’s elementary schools.

This year’s bookmark theme is “The Water Cycle.” Daisey supplied bookmark materials and coordinated additional outreach opportunities for the students. Along with Reilly Kelly, AmeriCorps member with the federation’s Wanchese office, Daisey is educating the students on how runoff plays its part in the water cycle. The lessons also emphasize how stormwater runoff pollution is the top polluter of North Carolina’s coastal waterways and how the students can help protect water quality on the coast.

The 125 Manteo Elementary fifth-grade students were are able to interact with the water cycle by “putting themselves in a water molecule’s shoes” and following their journey to and from rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers, plants and clouds through evaporation, condensation, transpiration and precipitation.

“Creating a bookmark through this contest is a great way for the students to connect with their local environments and to be able to further their understanding by expressing their knowledge of clean water through art,” Kelly said.

First-, second- and third-place bookmark winners will be chosen from each elementary school that participates. The first place bookmark will be printed and made available for every student in the school.

“In fostering children’s innate curiosity to learn, it is through them that we can instill the knowledge and skills to become better stewards of our environment,” Daisey said. “And what better way to do that than by allowing them to pretend to be a water droplet and then to express their newfound knowledge and artistic skills by drawing?”