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About 800 fourth graders attend water festival at GSU
Entertainer and educator Jack Golden, also known as "Dr. T," uses props and humor to teach fourth graders about the earth's water cycle Wednesday.
    About 800 fourth graders from the Ogeechee River basin descended upon Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Building for Winning Water: the 2008 Children's Water Festival.
    The festival, sponsored by Keep Georgia Beautiful, the city of Savannah, Georgia Power and GSU, is designed to teach youth about the various important facets of water and water use.
    Lynn Cobb, manager of Keep Georgia Beautiful, said the program started after state officials made a trip out to visit a similar event in Nebraska — the Groundwater Festival.
    "When we decided to bring it to Georgia, we tweaked it to adjust for surface water in the North and aquifers in the South," said Cobb. "Then we divided the state into river basins and invited the kids from each region."
    The first festival put on by the state was held in the Chattahoochee River Basin in 2004. Each festival after was based upon  the watershed in which the children lived. The Ogeechee festival is the fifth sponsored by the state.
    Winning Water is first and foremost an educational program. With classes like "Journey through a Storm Drain," "Hand on Hydrology," and "Wetland Wonders," Cobb said the children learn by doing.
    "It's hands-on, active learning," said Cobb. "They learn about the water cycle, water conservation, water saftey and the science of water."
    Brooke Carney, director of Keep Bulloch Beautiful, said the festival was a big hit with both the children and the volunteers who helped make the festival happen.
    "The kids are having a blast. The volunteers want to do this every year." said Carney.
    She wanted to let all the sponsors and volunteers — both local and statewide — know that their support was vital to the success of the festival.
    "Its important to know that there's tremendous local support," said Carney. "There's also support from all over the state, not only providing funds but also the giving of an enormous amount of time and effort."
    Though this is a program sponsored and run by the state through Keep Georgia Beautiful, Carney hopes to have an Ogeechee river basin water festival every year.
    "We plan to do this every year and we want all fourth graders to take advantage of the program," said Carney. "It's fun, it's free, it's educational and it's local."
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