Puppet show urges kids to save Rotten Bayou from pollution

DELISLE, MS (WLOX) - Some Pass Christian students are ready to do their part to help protect a prominent bayou in Harrison and Hancock Counties. On Friday, the Rotten Bayou Watershed Partnership kicked-off an educational program at Delisle Elementary. The team is teaching an environmental lesson with help from a large mouth bass.

Bobby Bass loves to splash around with his puppet friends in River Town. But when a large manufacturing plant comes to town, huge amounts of soil, litter and pollutants threaten to destroy their river and the town's water supply.

Fourth and fifth graders at Delisle Elementary School learned how that same scenario could also happen to a bayou that's right in their own backyard.

"The Rotten Bayou's water has exceeded pollution limits. That means that things we have been doing everyday like throwing things on the ground and dumping things into the water is polluting Rotten Bayou," said Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Representative Cherie Schadler.

Through a grant by MDEQ, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and the MSU Gulf Coast Community Design Studio started the outreach program. The lesson targets children who live in the Rotten Bayou Watershed, which are neighborhoods where water drains and flows into the bayou.

"We're wanting the children, and their future generations, to understand that clean water and quantity of water are two activities that we need to protect," said Land Trust Executive Director Judy Steckler. "Rotten Bayou at this time is labeled an impaired waterway, which means it's clear for swimming, but it still has turbidity and pollutants in the water."

"I didn't realize that when we go fishing, all that ink and clothes and all that actually gets in our water," said fifth grader Courtney Estay.

"I think it's cool how they're teaching us how to stop doing that, and they're bringing it to our school, because not many people know this and I'm just figuring out for myself right now," said fifth grader Ayden Ladner.

What they learn at this age could have a huge impact on the future of Rotten Bayou.

"You could hurt so many animals by throwing something out of your window and you can hurt yourself by doing that. If you went fishing, if you eat the fish that ate that stuff, you can hurt by that," said Ayden.

"I think it's kind of awesome that they're trying to teach us with a puppet show instead of just telling us, because telling us gets a little bit boring," said Courtney.

This summer, the partnership will put on performances at libraries in Pass Christian and Hancock County.

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