Secchi Day Science Fair on Beaver Lake has become a tradition in Northwest Arkansas. Sponsored by Beaver Water District, the event draws several hundred people from Northwest Arkansas and surrounding areas. This year’s event, logging in as the 14th anniversary, is Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Prairie Creek Recreation Area. Just plug the address 9300 N. Park Road, Rogers, Arkansas, into your GPS. You’ll travel a few miles east of Rogers off of Highway 12 to arrive at this beautiful park on the lake. Look for the temporary signage along the road that will help direct you to the event.
This year is made even more special with the attendance of Sara Peel, President of the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS). The mission of NALMS is to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow.
“We’re very excited to have Sara with us this year,” said Brad Hufhines, Environmental Specialist with Beaver Water District and former board of director representative for NALMS. “Secchi Day on Beaver Lake is one of the largest events in the nation that supports the Secchi Dip-In. The Secchi Dip-In is an international program administered by NALMS that utilizes volunteer scientist to track changes in water quality. While Sara is in town, she plans to tour the lake and visit stream restoration sites and low impact development sites that support the Source Water Protection Plan at Beaver Water District.”
Secchi Day on Beaver Lake is named for the Secchi disk, a black and white device lowered into the water to measure clarity. In the early morning, citizen science volunteers, using their own boats, collect water samples and take Secchi disk readings.
“Our core group of lake volunteers (citizen scientists) collect water samples and get clarity (depth) readings at various pre-selected sites on the lake,” said Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District. “The hands-on, lakeshore activities focus on the importance of Beaver Lake to the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas. In addition to door prizes and a grand prize kayak, we’ll have healthy snacks in the morning, followed by lunch (with vegetarian choices) and frozen treats. Beaver Water District is leading the way to ensure our community cares about Beaver Lake and values this beautiful natural resource. After all, it’s the drinking water for one in seven Arkansans.”
Attendees can spend time with education specialists, visit the Beaver Lake Fire Department fire truck and first aid station, test drive a kayak, make a water testing device to take home, make it rain on the watershed, and see how water flows impact water quality in the lake. All ages enjoy this event, which is ideal for scout troops, families, budding scientists, K-12 up to college students, retirees, residents of the lake and individuals from all over the area. About 550 people attend each year.
“We’ll also have mini-concerts featuring songs from Water Fun Facts with Papa Rap. Children will be encouraged to sing along in English and Spanish to original water songs based on the companion coloring book. Each family will receive a free coloring books and other items,” Wilson said. She added that the Marshallese community, which has a heavy emphasis on water, also is invited to share native culture and crafts.
Beaver Water District’s core partners who make Secchi Day a success include celebrity emcee Dan Skoff, Chief Meteorologist for KNWA, science experts, and staff and volunteers associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Beaver Lake, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Northwest Arkansas Stormwater Education, Hobbs State Park, Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists, Beaver Watershed Alliance, Beaver Lake Fire Department, Ozarks Water Watch, One Community, NALMS, Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, and The Ozark Society. In-kind sponsors include Harps Foods, Hiland Dairy, Cook’s Natural Market, Bass Pro Shops, and Outdoor Cap. Participating media sponsors include KNWA and 3W Magazine. For information, visit bwdh2o.org.