Free Irrigation Lesson Plans
Available for Educators
September means school is now in session across the state. It also means many elementary and secondary schools will be hosting back-to-school nights within the next few weeks.
You can help promote the irrigation industry to the next generation by taking advantage of parent-teacher meetings to recommend an irrigation curriculum. The following downloadable resources are free, easy to use, and provide an engaging way to teach students about the importance of water efficiency.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
In 2017, the Irrigation Association launched its elementary school lesson plan, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” Since then, the curriculum has been used by thousands of schools across the country. Activities within the lesson plan take students on a journey through the history and benefits of both landscape and agricultural irrigation.
Irrigation Association Teaching Kit. (Hover over image to enlarge text. Click to download.)
During the initial rollout, Irrigation Association CEO Deborah Hamlin explained the importance of the program. “Elementary school students need to understand that there is this great thing called ‘irrigation,’ and it puts food on our tables and keeps our communities green and healthy,” she said.
Since 1978, Young Minds Inspired has been the leading provider of free educational resources for all ages.
YMI has created more than 2,000 programs for a variety of learning centers, including schools, summer camps, public libraries, community centers and religious institutions. YMI’s programs are developed by curriculum experts and reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel of active teacher-advisors.
The materials are distributed free of charge to the more than two million teacher members of the YMI Educator Network.
The IA curriculum was developed through a collaboration with Young Minds Inspired. (See sidebar.) YMI was responsible for translating IA’s irrigation facts into rewarding educational activities. The lesson plan includes a complete teaching kit as well as activity worksheets for three separate subject areas:
For more information about the IA’s elementary school curriculum, as well as some additional resources, click here.
Explorations Into Water
Our friends at Rain Bird offer a 34-page irrigation curriculum, titled “Explorations Into Water.” For this program, Rain Bird partnered with Dr. Stefanie Saccoman from California State Polytechnic University to create a lesson plan that motivates students to consider the part each of them plays when using and conserving water.
The curriculum explores water efficiency issues and challenges, and helps students to understand how scientists and engineers perform field research and experimentation. The program connects abstract ideas and scientific concepts through classroom demonstrations and hands-on outdoor activities.
Rain Bird’s Teaching Curriculum. (Click image to download.)
Parents, as well as teachers, can use the Rain Bird program to create projects that illustrate scientific principles to school-age children in an easily understandable and meaningful way.
Subject areas include:
Investigations in Water Properties
Investigations in Agriculture, Filtration and Power Generation
Investigations in Sanitation – The Potable Water Supply
Investigations in Irrigation
Amazing Water Facts
For more information about Rain Bird’s teaching curriculum, click here.
Way to Flow – Water Irrigation
EGFI is a Washington DC-based organization committed to improving K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In conjunction with TryEngineering, EGFI has adopted a curriculum for older students called “Way to Flow — Water Irrigation.”
This program explores the ways civil engineering has addressed the need to move water from one place to another. Teachers facilitate two or three 45-minute sessions, during which students work in teams to design and build a rudimentary irrigation system. The system must be capable of moving two cups of water over a distance of three feet, and distributing it evenly into two separate containers.
The curriculum also offers several optional ideas for older or more advanced students, such as:
Is recruiting and retaining qualified employees a challenge for your irrigation business?
The Irrigation Association’s workforce development team offers a variety of resources, including an Irrigation Career Link, where employers can post job openings.
Creating a more challenging project that splits the water into three destination containers, or adjusts the ratio of water differently between the two containers (e.g., 75% and 25%).
Creating the most complicated irrigation system they can imagine – such as a chain-reaction machine, which performs a simple task in a complex way.
Setting a budget for the irrigation system, with an assigned cost for each material that the students must purchase from the teacher.
To download the pdf of EGFI’s irrigation curriculum, click here.
Planning for Our Future
Irrigation principles can easily be incorporated into any educational curriculum that focuses on environmental responsibility. And by encouraging educators to include these lesson plans, irrigation professionals can help foster a generation of young adults who are not only committed to water efficiency, but who also may consider pursuing careers within the industry.
At the very least, today’s students could become tomorrow’s irrigation customers.
As America begins to normalize in the aftermath of COVID, green industry professionals eagerly anticipate the return of live trade shows.
Still, these exhibitions could look a little different this year. Here are a few post-pandemic changes which trade show attendees can expect:
There may be fewer exhibition booths, with wider aisles, to accommodate social distancing.
There may also be limited to the number of attendees for certain events and pre-registration may be required for some presentations.
Plenty of hand-sanitizing stations, and masks may be required for all attendees at some trade shows, depending on location.
Some trade shows may incorporate a “hybrid” approach, offering both physical and virtual components.
Irrigation and green industry professionals are hailing the return of two particular live trade show events, GIE+EXPO (the Green Industry & Equipment Expo) and the 2021 Irrigation Show.
Dates: October 20-22, 2021 Place: Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville KY
Touted as the green industry’s largest trade show, GIE+EXPO is more than ready to return after last year’s pandemic-related cancellation.
Warren Sellers, trade show manager, has stated that both exhibitors and attendees are clamoring to get back together in person. A recent survey revealed that 91% of landscape professionals who are past attendees are likely to attend this year’s expo.
The TurfMutt Foundation, through a partnership with the Kentucky Humane Society, will once again sponsor Mutt Madness at GIE+EXPO on Thursday, October 21, from 11:00 to 2:00.
Expo attendees can take a break from the show floor to visit and/or adopt rescue dogs in Freedom Hall. At the 2019 Mutt Madness, 15 dogs found their forever homes.
The 2021 GIE+EXPO will once again include:
More than 20 acres of outdoor demonstration area
Arborist and hardscape demonstrations
New products spotlight
Plenty of workshops and educational opportunities
Plus, new this year will be:
A UTV test track
A hands-on Drone Zone
Technology Summit presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals
Of particular interest to irrigation professionals is the Irrigation Symposium, “Landscape Irrigation 2021: Opportunities and Challenges,” hosted by the Irrigation Association and scheduled for Wednesday, October 20. A panel of irrigation experts will share real-world analyses and solutions for the landscape irrigation industry. Cost for the session is $85 and pre-registration is required.
2021 Irrigation Show & Education Week
Dates: December 6-10, 2021 Place: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego CA
The focus of the 2021 Irrigation Show is connecting irrigation professionals with the suppliers of irrigation technology, products, and services via in-person networking. This year, there will be no keynote address or general session, and the traditional opening night reception will now be a Craft Brewfest, sponsored by Hunter Industries, on the showroom floor.
Education Week Seminars
Below is a listing of landscape irrigation seminars sponsored by Site One, which are being offered during IA’s Education Week. Click the course title for additional information.
Do the Math
The IA will be offering a FREE Math Tutorial on Tuesday evening, December 7. The two-hour intensive tutorial will provide a review of the most common formulas and calculations used when designing, installing, auditing and maintaining irrigation systems.
Charles (Bud) Knowles, founder of Wolf Creek, died July 8 at 11:30 pm in Dayton, Ohio, from complications of old age. Only six weeks before his 92nd birthday. A life well lived.
Bud is survived by his wife of 69 years, Jean Anne (Jan) Knowles; his oldest son Scott; his wife Jackie; and their children, Amanda Hamilton and Ben Knowles; along with great grandkids Harper and Hadley; his second oldest, Brooke Perin; her husband, Doug Perin; and their three daughters, Merideth, Logan, and Lily; his youngest son Chris; his wife Sue; and their two sons, Brannon and Trevor.
Bud was born August 18, 1929, in Wichita, Kansas, growing up on a small farm with his parents, brother Dell, and sisters Betty and Nancy.
Bud graduated from Wichita State University with an accounting degree, and immediately reported for duty as a draftee in the United States Marine Corp during the Korean War, serving with distinction. He was nominated to the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, then stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.
One evening at a dance at the Hollywood Palladium, he met his future wife, Jean Anne (Jan) Davidson. Jan had traveled to San Diego from Connecticut to visit friends. A long-distance relationship bloomed, with Bud making trips to meet Jan in Connecticut and New York City. They married in Connecticut in 1952 and their “honeymoon” was a cross-country drive back to Camp Pendleton.
After his time in the Marines, Bud joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Initially stationed in Newark, New Jersey, he was transferred to the Cincinnati office. Soon after he was moved to the Dayton, Ohio, office where, after a year as a field agent, he was promoted to the senior agent in charge of the Dayton branch. He was the youngest FBI agent to ever lead an office. Bud had the opportunity to meet with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and a framed autographed photo of Hoover proudly hung on his office wall until this day.
Bud knew his next assignment would be at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. He did not want to live near Washington and had become very comfortable in Dayton, so when he received his assignment, he decided to leave the FBI.
Thus, began Bud’s career as an entrepreneur. In 1961 he and Jan started the very successful Wolf Creek Garden Center. He was able to start a Saturday morning gardening talk show on the big local radio station, WHIO, and was a frequent guest on several Dayton TV shows, talking about landscaping — including several spots on the fledgling Phil Donahue show!
Bud was a builder and added many related services to the garden center business, full landscape service first, followed by an irrigation company. The irrigation business held special interest for Bud, and he added golf and agricultural irrigation and served on the board for the Irrigation Association. That board created the IA’s certification program. Bud built the largest irrigation business in a three-state area.
Bud’s success attracted the attention of irrigation manufacturer Rain Bird, who was looking to increase their presence in the Midwest. In 1979 Bud agreed to become the Rain Bird distributor. Selling off all other businesses, Bud focused on adding branches until Wolf Creek was in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington.
An offshoot of the irrigation business happened in 1996. The temporary pipe used in agricultural irrigation was discovered by construction companies who needed temporary fluid bypass piping. This was the beginning of a new business called Portable Piping. Not only did the business grow to serve all of North America, Bud and key man Jim Orban developed and patented innovative fittings.
Bud’s sons, Scott and Chris, became more active in the business starting in the 70s and 80s, and eventually taking ownership by the early 2000’s. By 2002, Scott and Chris assumed all operations of the business. Sister Brooke joined the business for several years in 2007. For many years, Bud would come into the office a few hours a week to “see what’s going on” until he turned 85. On that day, he showed up, announced he was done, and cleaned out his office.
Woodworking was a casual interest that developed into a serious hobby over the past many years. Bud studied, joined groups, and earned certifications. He made wonderful furniture, including an ornate walnut desk for his wife. His granddaughter Logan caught his bug and now makes a living in carpentry.
A life well lived; Bud will be missed. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Visitation (4:00 to 5:30) and memorial service (5:30 to 6:00) on Wednesday July 14 at Baker-Hazel & Snider 555 Philadelphia Drive, Dayton, Ohio.
Bud asked for those inclined to send flowers to instead donate to a charity of their choice, especially those serving military, police, and children. Cards can be mailed to Wolf Creek Company 6051 Wolf Creek Pike Trotwood, OH 45426.
Save Water by Avoiding These Design and Installation Errors
To err is human. But that doesn’t mean some errors can’t be avoided. Irrigation mistakes often result in wasted water, and that reflects poorly on the industry.
Here are some of the most common missteps that can occur when designing and installing landscape irrigation systems.
#1. Mixing Sprinkler Head Types Within a Single Zone
Installing different types of irrigation heads within the same zone to operate at the same time is not a good idea. The precipitation / application rates of the various emitters used for rotors, sprays, bubblers, and drip systems are entirely different.
For instance, nozzles for rotor heads have a much lower IPH (inches per hour) rate than those for spray heads. So if you install a rotor head in a zone with spray heads, you’ll create a dry spot. Then, you’ll have to run this irrigation zone longer in order to apply enough water to cover the dry area, wasting both water and money.
#2. Setting the Same Running Times for All Zones
It’s important to program the irrigation controller so that the different zone types (rotor, spray, drip, etc.) have different running times. Again, because the precipitation rates differ for the various types of irrigation heads, the operating times should also be different. A zone with 0.20 IPH heads, for instance, will obviously need to run longer than an irrigation zone with 1.60 IPH heads.
According to the experts at Irrigation & Green Industry (IGIN) magazine, it’s a good idea for contractors to periodically assess their design and installation techniques in order to avoid irrigation mistakes. IGIN suggests asking yourself three questions:
Am I meeting — or exceeding – my customers’ expectations?
Am I doing so in such a way as to maximize my own profits?
Am I a responsible member of my community and setting a good example for the green industry?
Whenever the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s time to stop and reevaluate your methods.
#3. Failing to Achieve Head-to-Head Coverage
Regardless of whether you’re using sprays or rotors, all zones should provide head-to-head coverage. That means the maximum distance between heads/nozzles in each irrigation zone should match the nozzle manufacturer’s maximum throwing distance (10 feet, 15 feet, 25 feet, 35 feet, etc.) for that nozzle at your working pressure.
Do not attempt to increase the distance between heads in order to save on design, installation, operational or maintenance costs.
#4. Failing to Match Precipitation Rates
Some irrigation professionals incorrectly assume that they should use the same gallon per minute (GPM) nozzles in every head within a zone if they want to evenly water that area. Not so. There’s a reason system manufacturers produce so many different GPM nozzles.
By matching precipitation rates of the nozzles, you can save between 10 and 40 percent of the water used in any given zone. For instance, a rotor head that covers 1/3 of a circle should apply approximately 1/3 of the GPM as a rotor head in the same zone which covers a full circle. (For a more detailed explanation, see “Matched Precipitation Rates: Key to Water Efficiency.”)
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#5. Incorporating Planting Beds in the Same Zone as Grassy Areas
Improper zoning is one of the most common irrigation mistakes. Grassy areas should always be irrigated separately from shrub and planting beds. Almost all landscape plants have larger root systems than grass. This means they can exist on half of the amount of water that grass requires. Separate shrub/planting zones should be scheduled to irrigate more deeply but less often as turf zones.
#6. Neglecting to Install or Retrofit Rain Sensors
A rain sensor may be a contractor’s most valuable tool for reducing water waste. (After all, irrigation should always be regarded as a back-up for natural precipitation, not the other way around.)
Since most rain sensors can save between three and 15 percent of a system’s annual operating expenses, they generally pay for themselves in less than one season. In fact, these devices are so effective that, in several areas of the country, they are required on all new irrigation systems.
Plan Ahead to Promote Your Business During the Industry’s Showcase Month
July is Smart Irrigation Month — the irrigation industry’s showcase month.
So now’s the time to position your business as a leader in water-saving practices by promoting smart and efficient irrigation.
The Irrigation Association offers a plethora of resources to promote your business during Smart Irrigation Month. If you’ve never taken advantage of these marketing tools, you’re missing out on effective ways to enhance your brand.
Social Media Tools
The IA has created several customizable social media tools to help you promote smart irrigation throughout the month of July. Such as:
Social media cover photos for your company’s profile page on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Landscape irrigation infographics and snippets for Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Articles on irrigation best practices to include in your company’s monthly blog or newsletter.