SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Fall 2010 : Page 16

Photo: Lloyd Wolf “W Clockwise from top: Tony Wood, Peter Berry, Barbi Pierson and Leigh Clifton ater is our most precious resource, and we really need to respect what water is about,” says Barbi Pierson. With fellow coastal residents Leigh Clifton and Tony Wood, Pierson started spreading the word about conserving water in February, long before the nation began to associate Gulf shores with its worst oil spill ever. The group met at Pinellas Technical Education Centers’ (PTEC) St. Peters-burg, Fla., campus, after administrator Peter Berry applied for and received a water conservation grant. Berry asked Clifton, a commercial photography student, to work on the project. Pierson and Wood, both enrolled in a pharmacy technician program, then came on board. Although the three didn’t know each other before they came together for the project, they’re so like-minded they fi nish each other’s sentences. “We’ve become really good friends, and we’ve melded as a group,” Clifton says. “We didn’t have a long time together, but things gelled quickly.” Pierson adds, “There’s nothing really that any of us have in common except for this great interest in conserving water.” The $5,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District allowed them to buy 675 low-fl ow water conservation kits. The students scheduled presentations to give away the kits and educate residents. Working with the St. Petersburg water department, the group also collected the water usage data of residents who agreed to install the kits. The city provided usage fi gures from the four months prior to the installations to compare with those from four months later. Only residents’ addresses were used in the study, which, according to Pierson, helped make them more willing to participate. The students then compared the usage fi gures and developed PowerPoint graphs, which they’ve used to present to more than 25 different audiences, including a televised city council meeting.

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