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My Water Comes from the Mountains


My Water Comes from the Mountains takes children on an illustrated journey through their local watershed, from snow high on the Continental Divide to the water in their faucet tap.  Written by environmental educator Tiffany Fourment, the book is illustrated by Dorothy Emerling, and by 2nd through 6th grade students who submitted drawings of activity in their local watershed as part of class projects using the book’s manuscript.

Fourment began writing the book as a project for a summer field course, Alpine Ecology and Experiential Learning, taught by Diane McKnight at the Mountain Research Station. Fourment narrates the path of water from alpine to plains ecosystems as it becomes the drinking supply and irrigation water for the city of Boulder and neighboring communities.

In 2004, classroom sets of the books were given to elementary schools throughout the Boulder and St. Vrain school districts by the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research program, supported by the National Science Foundation.

A new version of the book, My Water Comes From the Rocky Mountains, widened the scope of the watershed to apply to students throughout the Rocky Mountain states. Students from New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Kansas, and Utah contributed drawings for the book as part of classroom projects.

The third version of the book, My Water Comes From the San Juan Mountains, focuses on the rivers and streams that bring life to the land on the Rocky Mountain's Western Slope. It incorporates art and quotes from school children in La Plata County. The San Juan Collaboratory, a joint effort among CU-Boulder, Fort Lewis College, the Mountain Studies Institute, and the USFS/BLM San Juan Public Lands Center, along with Durango 9-R Schools, supported the publication and distribution of the book to schools and educators throughout the San Juan Mountain region (Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties).

Buy the books from Amazon:

Read more about the LTER Schoolyard children’s book series.


Each version of the My Water book was sent to 2nd-6th grade classrooms in Boulder, on the Western Slope, or across the Rocky Mountain region. Participating children created original artwork and descriptions that are all online. Selected artwork was included in the final publication of each book.

Browse the artwork from Boulder and Rocky Mountain state students.

Browse the artwork from San Juan students.

Teacher training

A curriculum guide and teacher training workshops are available from the Mountain Studies Institute. They have also produced a story map.

Read about the 2011 NSF LTER Schoolyard Children’s Book Series Workshop, hosted by the LTER program, where Colorado teachers and scientific researchers joined forces with authors, illustrators, and book publishers to develop curricula and other teaching resources around the books.

Activity kits

My H2O watershed curriculum and a materials kit for elementary classrooms supplements the My Water books and engages students in inquiry-based activities in water science. The guide and kit blend Colorado state educational standards in science, language arts, geography and math.

Download the MyH2O Teacher's Curriculum Guide.

Kits are in circulation in the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain School Districts, as well as several school districts in the Four Corners region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and with the Girl Scouts of Colorado. Each kit includes a number of hands-on exercises, along with the supplies and instructions needed to complete them. Some activities can be conducted outdoors, by a creek or stream; others are appropriate for the classroom. Activities include using maps to trace how water moves through the local watershed, measuring the pH of stream water, identifying insects and fish, and playing science games.

The project was a joint effort by INSTAAR and the Niwot Ridge LTER, with a number of collaborators in local school districts and governmental agencies. Funding for the curriculum guide was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the CU-Boulder Outreach Committee; the City of Boulder; and the Watershed Approach to Stream Health (WASH), a partnership of communities in Boulder County formed to protect water quality. Other support came through the Schoolyard program of the Niwot Ridge LTER.

About LTER

The LTER program includes research sites around the world studying ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales. Boulder's local LTER site, the Niwot Ridge LTER, is home to vital research on the Boulder Watershed and the scientists who originated the Schoolyard Children's Book Series.

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