Mary Rodgers, former teacher at Abington High School in PA, and H2O for Life founder, Patty Hall met at a youth leadership conference in New Mexico in 2007. H2O for Life was beginning their first year as a service-learning organization. Mary was highly interested in water resources and was one of the first schools to register for an H2O for Life school project. This was the beginning of a relationship that lasted for 10 years until Mary retired two years ago.
Over those 10 years Mary and her students were highly engaged with their projects. Her students became presenters at conferences on behalf H2O for Life and hosted their own water conferences for students in the Philadelphia area. One of her students, Emily Crossette shared the stage with Hillary Clinton at a World Water Day event in Washington DC. Her students received awards and accolades for their work, but more importantly became invested in the global water crisis. All teachers hope that their work with youth is significant. Mary has proof that she impacted thousands of students at Abington HS, and also impacted countless student lives around the world.
Mary and Patty keep in touch through Facebook. Recently, Mary shared these posts with her.
Upon learning that H2O for Life was reaching out to former student participants, Mary provided contact information for a follow up study.
Mary: “Oh my goodness! Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Our 1st ever president, Bonnie McDevitt, is also a doctoral candidate dealing with water. Peter Limburg is studying law and may work in environmental justice. Emily Crossette is completing her PHD focused on water. The list is long. Thank you Patty (H2O for Life) for setting a course for so many young people, who because of H2O, felt effective and impactful enough to be inspired to continue their (your) work in water. Amazing!”
Later, Mary shared a Facebook post with H2O for Life after viewing this video.
Mary: “I am so proud to have served as the advisor for one of the first partner schools (with H2O for Life) in the US. Abington School District (PA), raised money to build water delivery systems in more than 15 schools, internationally while learning about global environment, geography, economics and culture. Friends, support American students and their global partners through H2O for Life. Go to h2oforlifeschools.org to find out how.”
Mary’s post led to the following exchange:
Parent: “You were awesome with those students, especially mine! Kelsey now has 2 PHD offers and it started with the enthusiasm you gave these kids and in showing them how one person can make a difference. You certainly inspired many to do great things! Bravo to you Mary Rodgers.”
Mary to former student: “Kelsey Ward I’m so proud of you. Congratulations on your dedication to preserving our most important resource. You are truly a Water Warrior! To my knowledge, you are at least my 4th H2O student to work on his/her PhD in a water related career. PLEASE keep up the good work. I love hearing about your adventures.”
Kelsey responded: “can’t believe this was how i started out and now I’m gonna be spending the rest of my life studying water chemistry !”
These are only the students that Mary knows about. We believe that many more of her students learned about the need to protect and conserve our water resources and will be water advocates for life.
The culture Mary created at Abington High School lives on, as they have continued to participate with H2O for Life since she retired. Since 2007, Abington students have raised nearly $60,000 for water, sanitation and hygiene education projects at schools around the world!
Thanks, Mary, for your amazing service to youth! Teachers like you truly change the world.