Students trade classroom for Barton Springs for the day

Kids swimming during Barton Springs University. Sept. 28, 2016 (KXAN Photo)
Kids swimming during Barton Springs University. Sept. 28, 2016 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of local students left the classroom to spend a day at Barton Springs Pool, not just to swim, but for a full day of outdoor learning.

We swim and play at Barton Springs Pool on a hot Texas day. However, this local watering hole has a much more to offer than just recreation. That’s the idea behind an event called Barton Springs University.

Many students and even local residents were invited to Barton Springs University to learn how special the springs and other natural springs in the Hill Country region truly are, as well as what we need to do as a community to protect them into the future.

“Barton Springs is the fourth largest spring in Texas” says Bill Bunch, Executive Director of Save Our Springs Alliance. “It’s the best swimming hole in the whole state, and it’s home to at least two endangered species that live here and no where else in the world.”

It’s also serves as a unique opportunity for high school and college students to learn from our region’s top experts on the science and management of Central Texas waters.

Barton Springs Pool (KXAN Photo/Natalie Ferrari)
Barton Springs Pool (KXAN Photo/Natalie Ferrari)

“I think it’s cool that we get to go and get out of class and go to a different environment so we can see different things and not just be in classroom, learning on a powerpoint,” says Kara Kelly, a senior who was visiting on a field trip. “We actually get to learn real life.”

Students also learned the importance of water quality, conservation and all about the salamander that calls Barton Springs home. There are many things we can do in our daily lives to ensure the quality of our water and the habitat of many local species.

“My family has a garden, we need to make sure that we’re using organic things that are safe for the environment so that it doesn’t end up in the water,” says student Riley Ruchti.

Student Owen Todd tells us, “I think if we’re going to teach people to respect the water and the environment, it might as well be us because we’re the next generation.”

Organizers say they hope to hold this event at least once a semester in the future, instead of just once a year.

“It takes a community to save a community spring,” says Bunch. “No one of us can do it. We all have to pitch in.”

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