WERI at 2023 Educators Symposium:
Un Hånom

The eagerly anticipated 2023 Educators Symposium: Un Hånom (One Water), hosted by the Northern Guam Soil & Water Conservation District, concluded on a high note at the Guam Museum, leaving a lasting impact on all attendees. The symposium, held from July 26th to July 28th, provided an engaging and insightful platform for industry professionals and academics to come together and exchange ideas on Guam’s local bodies of water, with a focus on production, distribution, protection, conservation, and safe usage. The symposium saw an enthusiastic participation of around 70 attendees who gathered to discuss pressing water-related issues and explore innovative solutions to the challenges faced by Guam’s water resources. Notably, esteemed hydrologists, researchers, and educators graced the event, adding invaluable expertise to the discussions.

"Throughout the symposium, the mission to promote, sustain, and support the conservation of Guam's soil and water resources was evident in every discussion and presentation," shared one educator. "The dedication of individuals and organizations striving to protect our island's ecosystems was inspiring. They emphasized that by taking collective action, we can mitigate the impact of environmental challenges and foster resilience."

One of the highlights of the symposium was the keynote speech delivered by Dr. Ross Miller, the interim director of WERI (Water and Environmental Research Institute of the Western Pacific). Dr. Miller enlightened the audience on the significance of the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer and the Southern reservoirs, emphasizing the importance of conservation and sustainable water usage. He also introduced the audience to WERI as a Land Grant institution, its research focus, the faculty, staff, and research assistants, and as the region’s scientific research leaders on earth and water resources.

The WERI-GHS Research Team had one member in attendance, Ms. Dannika Valerio, who made a lasting impression with the introduction of WERI’s latest online data visualization tool available on the Guam Hydrologic Survey website. Ms. Valerio showcased MAppFx: NGLA Production Well Nitrates, which allows access to map and graph data through an easy-to-use, user-friendly interface. Her research shed light on critical aspects of water quality and contamination, sparking meaningful discussions among attendees and providing them with a resource tool for their reference.

Furthermore, the symposium witnessed an informative virtual tour into the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer, led by WERI’s groundwater hydrologist, Dr. Nathan Habana. Dr. Habana continues to support the Soil and Water Conservation District with the virtual tour, providing an in-depth exploration of Guam’s aquifer system, further deepening the attendees’ understanding of this vital water resource.

"I felt inspired by this symposium to really adjust my approach to teaching by integrating more environmental protection education into culture teaching," another educator shared. "Exposure to these issues in and out of the classroom will hopefully inspire students and families to make a difference. Spreading awareness of and actively practicing conservation can greatly impact our students and our island in hopes of a change for the better."

Additionally, Dr. Habana guided the audience through a tour of the GHS website, drawing attention to all available water resources pertaining to Guam. One highlight from this tour is Dr. Habana’s presentation of the GHS Interagency Hydrologic Web MApps collection, offering powerful tools to analyze and visualize hydrological data. Dr. Habana also unveiled the second web app to the GHS MAppFx collection, which focused on Southern Guam: Ugum Watershed Flow Duration Curves. The innovative approach showcased during the presentation captured the attention of the audience and inspired new avenues for water resource management and conservation efforts.

"After this symposium, I will help be the change our island needs to conserve and sustain our island’s water," expressed another educator. "If there is one thing that stuck with me, it is that 'water is life.' Living organisms migrate towards water. It is a living organism's basic need to survive. To be frank, I have never heard so much information about water until this week. Although we hear the same information, we hear them from different perspectives. I am grateful to be a part of this symposium and be closer to water."

The event’s positive impact promises to reverberate long after its conclusion, motivating attendees to apply the knowledge gained and share the resources they gained to educate their students and inspire efforts to collaborate on initiatives to safeguard Guam’s water resources.

The organizers and participants of the 2023 Educators Symposium: Un Hånom look forward to future gatherings that will continue to strengthen the island’s commitment to “One Water” – a shared vision for the sustainable and responsible use of Guam’s precious water resources. All in all, the knowledge shared to educators is of great importance as they pass the information to our young and future leaders, the foundation and interest in sustaining our island’s most valuable resources.

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