CSU and high school students plan Denver Youth Water Summit

Members of Youth Water Summit

When 25-year-old Bryan Contreras, a senior psychology major at Colorado State University, learned about a CSU Water Fellows program in Denver over summer break, he jumped at the opportunity to learn more about water conservation and policy.

Contreras and four other CSU students, spent four weeks learning about leadership and event organization, and then were introduced to six Colorado high school students that they would work with for the next five weeks.

Meeting three days a week, for eight hours at a time, the college and high school students took on learning about water and putting their new knowledge to the test in planning a youth water summit, which will be in Denver on Sept. 23. MaryLou Smith, of the CSU Water Institute, a division of the Office of Engagement, served as the advisor for the summer semester program.

“It was a very positive experience – it was not only about water, but it was about how to work as a team, how to communicate, and how to make things happen from ideas,” Contreras said. “We’re trying to inspire the students to raise their voices about issues that matter to them, and to all of us.”

During the program, the student Water Fellows attended a water hearing at the Capitol, toured Denver Water facilities, and learned about the current challenges facing the South Platte River, which runs through Denver and the site of the planned National Western Center.

Maliq Grant-Washington, a 16-year-old junior at South High School, has family that lives near the river, and he was excited for the opportunity to learn more about water quality and issues surrounding water.

“I learned from our speakers that water means more to communities than people think. For me specifically, this was a really good opportunity to learn a lot about a limited resource we have,” he said.

CSU sophomore and Biomedical Sciences major Carla Rey Diaz, 19, agreed.

“Water matters because it’s a limited resource that a lot of us take for granted on a daily basis – we take it for granted without really thinking about it,” Rey Diaz said.

The “Flow into your Future,” youth water summit on  will engage an anticipated 150 youth, and the Water Fellow students are excited to share their new knowledge with their community.

The Summit will include hands-on activities such as PH testing, sessions with Denver Water about how water gets to the front range and the process it goes through, and a Denver Zoo-run session on the Colorado watershed. The students also planned a college corner, where attendees can learn more about options for higher education.

The upcoming event is especially exciting for Aliyah Fard, a 17-year-old senior at Colorado Academy, who is interested in pursuing an occupation related to water. She plans to study political science and environmental law in college, and looks forward to engaging new people in the conversation around water.

“I want a career in the water industry because of how important and how overlooked it is,” she said. “People should care because we can’t live without it. It’s really important that it says clean and that we preserve it. We only have so much.”

Flow into your Future: Youth Water Summit
Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
National Western Complex
4655 Humboldt St, Denver, CO 80216
Food provided
Free to attend
For more information, email csuwaterfellows@gmail.com

Water Fellows Advisor

MaryLou Smith, CSU Water Institute, a division of the Office of Engagement

CSU Water Fellows
  • Francisco Varela, Sophomore, CSU
  • Hugo Lezama, Junior, CSU
  • Carla Rey Diaz, Sophomore, CSU
  • Nancy Negrete Contreras, Sophomore, CSU
  • Bryan Contreras, Senior, CSU
National Western Center youth water project interns
  • Aliyah Fard, Senior, Colorado Academy
  • Uriel Silva, Junior, Mapleton Early College High School in Thornton
  • Maliq Grant-Washington, Junior, South High School
  • Elizabeth Zapien, Junior, Mullen High School
  • Aaliyah Purchase, Sophomore, Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Jose Montoya, Freshman, Metro State University

Colorado State University and the National Western Center

Colorado State University has made a long-term commitment to the reimagining of the National Western Center in North Denver, and the communities surrounding the project. Efforts are under way to create partnerships with community schools, non-profits and businesses, and to actively engage in the community.

A key and founding partner in the National Western Center, CSU will have three buildings within the 250-acre campus upon completion. The project, which will break ground in the coming years, expands and regenerates the current National Western Stock Show site, turning it into a vibrant, year-round experiential, community-centric, life-long learning destination in the heart of Denver.

As Colorado’s land-grant university, CSU’s mission of research, service, and access, fits with the outreach mission of the National Western Center. CSU’s plans at the new campus focus on research and education programming in the areas of food systems, water, environment, energy and health. The university has initiated programming and service outreach efforts before buildings are constructed, as part of its commitment to the area. For additional information, visit nwc.colostate.edu.