More than 270 middle and high school students and their teachers gathered February 14 in Victorville for a half-day program aimed at inspiring the next generation to take up current water challenges. Featured at the summit were some of the region’s best and brightest students, including essay winner Leslie Tello and the La Contenta Middle School that earned first place in the annual Problem Solvers competition.
The summit hosted by Mojave Water Agency was held at the High Desert Church campus. It featured water experts, career panels, student presenters, and more. Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce and High Desert Church co-hosted this year’s event. Sponsors included Liberty Utilities, Kennedy Jenks, Golden State Water Company, Toro, the County of San Bernardino Special Districts Department, Rain Bird, and Altec Engineering.
Among the speakers was Leslie Tello, a junior at University Prep in Victorville. Tello received a $3,000 scholarship for her winning essay titled, The Grass is not Always Greener. The essay focused on lifestyle changes to help ensure a sustainable water supply for the desert region. Taking the two runner-up positions and each receiving a $1,000 scholarship were Nuria Cambre from the Academy of Careers and Explorations and Benjamin Sowards from Victor Valley High School.
Charged with creating new water saving technology, five regional schools competed for the top prize in the Problem Solvers competition that is aired on PBS. La Contenta Middle School, located in Yucca Valley, took tops honors and a $3,000 scholarship for their school. The middle school team invented a device to track water consumption through sensors and relays real-time information to a smart phone app. Earning the runner-up positions and a $1,000 scholarship for their inventions were Oaks Hills High School and Apple Valley High School. Other competing teams included Sultana High School and Melva Davis Academy of Excellence.
The day also featured water experts E. Joaquin Esquivel, State Water Resources Control Board Chair, and Cástulo R. Estrada, Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Coachella Valley District.