GET WET! began in 2004 when Teresa Thornton began her masters work at the University of Maine. Her then mentor, John Peckenham, employed her as a field scientist measuring groundwater levels and chemistry in a small town on the Maine coast. The town contacted John Peckenham because they noticed a great deal of sand and gravel leaving the town in trucks. They were also educated and aware enough to realize the sand and gravel leaving were the materials that made up their aquifer. As a one to two person operation working with a bottom-up community system the work was somewhat slow. John Peckenham had a brilliant idea. Knowing Teresa had years of experience as an educator, he thought that they would be able to go into the schools and collect larger amounts of data over a greater area. Students would be trained to sample and bring in water that the UMaine lab could then test. Teresa was inspired by this and began to create curriculum to accompany the idea and GET WET! was born. The community was incredibly tight knit giving rise to the addition of professionals and community members as volunteers and expert resources. In 2009, Teresa collaborated on a grant that procured $555K from the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This allowed her to achieve a PhD while placing the program throughout: ME, VT, RI, CT, and NH.
Since that time New York and Florida have also implemented the program with several governmental and non-governmental organizations taking over the management and implementation in their states (See State Programs). The program has now grown in a manner whereby it is a school-centered, community-based environmental monitoring research program GET WET! (Groundwater Education Through Water Evaluation & Testing). It employs secondary education students, state and local government, ENGOs, local businesses, local colleges/universities, and community volunteers as citizen scientists in order to create a database of local groundwater quality to use as a baseline for groundwater management. Participating communities have developed a repository of long-term data as well as begun to perform independent research. Publications and conferences relating to GET WET! can be found on the Publications & Conferences Page.
As GET WET! grows, all are invited to participate!