• A stator in the third powerhouse at Grand Coulee.
  • The penstocks above the water at Hoover Dam
  • The top of Shasta Dam in California
  • An automated gate structure on a canal in Washington.
  • An aerial photo of the sunsetting at Ruedi Reservoir in Colorado.


PARMA, Idaho - Last month, Reclamation’s mascot, Otto Otter, participated in the "Progressive Agriculture Safety Day” event at the University of Idaho Ag Research Center in Parma, ID. This was one of Otto’s last scheduled events for 2012. Over 75 fourth graders were present.

“Progressive Agriculture Safety Days” are educational and fun. They are one-day events which teaches children safety and health lessons that can keep them and those around them safe and healthy on a farm, a ranch or at home. The program is designed to reach children ages 8 to 13. More than 60,000 children and adults across the country participate each year.

At the event, the children were divided into small groups. Each group had at least two adults or older teen leaders who help the children rotate between stations where specific topics were taught. This year there were 12 different stations for the children to attend. Some of the topics included: electrical safety, chemical safety, water/canal safety, gun/knife safety, fire safety, food safety, farm equipment safety, and first aid.

Erika Lopez, Public Involvement Specialist, and Annette Ross, Public Affairs Specialist, delivered the water/canal safety presentation to the 12 groups, teaching them the importance of wearing a life jacket when in the water, near the water and on the water; and teaching them how important it is to stay out of canals and ditches. The children were made aware of some of the hidden dangers in canals like broken bottles, rusty cans, chemicals, rats, used syringes, even dead animals. They were shown posters of different canals and pipes called siphons and how the strong currents in canals can suck them into the siphon.

The children were told that in Idaho canals are mainly used for irrigation, to carry water to crops. Canals are not for play, they are not recreational areas. “This was my second year working with the children at the 'Progressive Agriculture Safety Day’ event,” said Erika Lopez. “Besides the event being lots of fun for me as well as the children, I think they took away more than just fun, they left knowing the truths about canals and why they are dangerous to play in.”

When asked to brainstorm safe places to swim or cool off on a hot summer day, the groups came up with places such as the beach, lake, pond, and swimming pool. These are all great places to swim. They were reminded to never swim alone, but to always practice the buddy system, that way if one gets in trouble the other would be able to get help.

Following each water/canal safety presentation, Otto Otter and his “handler” distributed an “Otto Otter for Safe Canals" coloring book to each child in attendance.

Throughout the day, the children showed a lot of enthusiasm. After listening to the presentation, many promised to never take a cool dip in any canal. They vowed to stay smart, stay safe, and stay away from canals!

Released: November 28, 2012