Tucson Water Conservation Education Programs: Beat the Peak Activity Booklet (Elementary Aged Children)

Every year since 1995, the Exchange has developed and distributed an informal children's activity booklet focusing on water conservation. Over 12,000 booklets are distributed free of charge each year to young elementary-age children throughout the service area of Tucson Water. The booklets, which use fun activities to teach essential conservation concepts, are sponsored by Tucson Water in conjunction with an annual community awareness campaign to "Beat the Peak" of summer water use in this desert city. During some years, a leader's guide is produced as well, suggesting supplementary activities for small groups. The booklets are distributed primarily through various summer youth recreation programs. Each year the booklets feature a different theme, in accord with the larger media campaign. "Pete the Beak," a savvy duck who spreads the word about water conservation, takes on guises ranging from old west sheriff to secret agent to Olympic sports buff. Pete's predominant theme always involves the importance of water conservation and how to conserve water. This basic theme is interwoven each year with other water education concepts, such as the water cycle, water supply and distribution, how desert plants and animals obtain and use water, and so on. Each year, the 12-page booklet is packed with fun activities, including various types of crossword puzzles and other word games, mazes, graphic puzzles, card sets, drawing or cut-out activities, and more. Activity booklets of this type are a simple educational tool but can be a valuable component of a larger education effort. As part of Tucson's annual "Beat the Peak" campaign, the interactive nature of the booklets encourages children to think more actively about conservation messages that their families are being exposed to through television, radio, newspapers, or direct mail. Over time, this continuity and the combination of the summer conservation campaign, school outreach programs, and teacher activity packets helps to build a very strong sense of the importance of water conservation in the household decision makers and community leaders of tomorrow.