On August 18th nearly 700 people entered the festival grounds at Prairie Creek on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas to celebrate the 13th Annual Secchi Day. Taking its name from Secchi disks used to measure the depth of water visibility in lakes and rivers, this Science Education Day organized by Beaver Water District offered a mobile aquarium demonstration, on-shore scavenger hunts with prizes, free lunch and ice cream, kayak and stand-up paddle-board test rides, hands-on science activities, microscope activities, a photo contest and musical performances, including Water Fun Facts with Papa Rap and Marshallese dances and crafts. This was the first year the Ozark Society served as a partner for this event. Working with Hobbs State Park, our volunteers offered participants free kayak rides. Ozark Society members helped participants into life jackets, loaded them into kayaks, and later helped pull them safely off Beaver Lake.
Under a large canopy, along with many other partners, the Ozark Society presented our children’s activity. As a constant flow of children moved from exhibit to exhibit, we kept the children interested by having them test the pH of solutions such as Coca-Cola, water from the Buffalo River, vinegar and soda water. They loved using litmus paper to determine if a solution was an acid or a base. As we trudged up the hill to the parking lot after the event, Tom Perry and I reflected on the importance of engaging in this new venture. By participating in both the free kayak rides and the children’s hands-on activity, we served the greater community in general and the Beaver Water District specifically. That contribution is important in itself, but it also gives us name recognition, and helps us feel a part of the community. We were able to meet and network with other organizations, including the Master Naturalists, Hobbs State Park, Shiloh Museum and the University of Arkansas Microbiology Department. Lastly, we successfully recruited families for our Ozark Society Young Naturalists program, which begins this fall.