CULTURE: Boise WaterShed Environmental Education Center

My friend Kristyn and I recently took our girls to the City of Boise's new WaterShed Environmental Educational Center for an afternoon. They've created a really cool museum, of sorts, at the waste treatment plant off of Chinden Blvd. out near HP. Their mission is to teach people of all ages about water conservation in our region. We called ahead and asked for a tour and had the whole place to ourselves that quiet Thursday afternoon.

Our guide was a graduate student in biology from BSU and was sweet, entertaining, and tolerant of our wily girls. He showed us the huge wall mural of the Boise region and explained to us all how our local watershed works, and what types of things might damage our resources, like garbage, animal feces, etc.
The place is full of hands-on computer games and exhibits aimed toward helping us learn about water and how we use it, both in appropriate and inappropriate means. Our favorite was one that had a map of Boise on a computer where you can click on your house and see how long it takes your toilet waste to get from your house to the treatment plant. Surprisingly, we learned it takes our poop 7 hours and 10 miles to get to its final destination from our home on the Bench.

This little dollhouse-like set up was another of the girls' favorites. You can push buttons in different rooms in the house and see how much water all of our various household activities, like doing laundry and taking baths, uses. Not surprisingly, watering your yard is outrageously wasteful of water. We're lucky up here on our part of the Bench to have a neighborhood irrigation system courtesy of the New York Canal.

They also have a few of these large concrete sewage pipes to climb around in and see how and where they are buried in our city. The guide put on a cute video for the girls with dancing raindrops and catchy tunes all about poop and other important stuff. This, of course, was a huge hit with the kindergarten crowd, as "poop" and "pee" seem to be among their favorite vocabulary words. The women at the front desk were also great, and gave us this great list of 101 Things to Do Outside put together by the Be Outside! statewide campaign to get children in the outdoors more often. They also gave the kids stickers to put on their bathroom mirror, reminding them to conserve water by turning the faucet off when brushing their teeth. In the library there were coloring pages, books about weather and free maps of the Boise WaterShed. It was such a great, educational experience for all (including us mamas!) that we plan to go back for one of their free educational Saturdays soon and take a tour of the whole plant. There is also a great little outdoor patio that would be a nice place to have a snack when the weather warms up. The place also boasts some of the most stellar public artwork by local artists in the city. How could a free educational center focused on poop not be good, solid family fun? Get there!