How did GET WET! get started?

GET WET! began in 2004 when a small town in Maine contacted the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research located at the University of Maine, Orono.  They noticed a great deal of sand and gravel leaving the town in trucks.

6Image 1:  Map of Sand and gravel pits within the glacial outwash that holds the town’s drinking water source.

They were also educated and aware enough to realize the sand and gravel leaving were the materials that made up their aquifer. As a one to two person operation working with a bottom-up community system the work was somewhat slow.

Peckenham-179x250Senior scientist at the Mitchell Center, John Peckenham, had a brilliant idea. Knowing his graduate student, Teresa Thornton, had years of experience as an educator, he thought that they would be able to go into the schools and collect larger amounts of data over a greater area. Students would be trained to sample and bring in water that the UMaine lab could then test. Teresa was inspired by this and began to create curriculum to accompany the idea and GET WET! was born.


The community was incredibly tight knit giving rise to the addition of professionals and community members as volunteers and expert resources. In 2009, Teresa collaborated on a grant that procured $555K from the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This allowed her to achieve a PhD while placing the program throughout: ME, VT, RI, CT, and NH.

Since that time New York and Florida have also implemented the program with several governmental and non-governmental organizations taking over the management and implementation in their states (See State Programs). The program has now grown in a manner whereby it is a school-centered, community-based environmental monitoring research program GET WET!.  It employs secondary education students, state and local government, ENGOs, local businesses, local colleges/universities, and community volunteers as citizen scientists in order to create a database of local groundwater quality to use as a baseline for groundwater management. Participating communities have developed a repository of long-term data as well as begun to perform independent research. Publications and conferences relating to GET WET! can be found on the Publications & Conferences Page.

GET WET! was originally an acronym for Groundwater Education Through WaterEvaluation & Testing, but since the many drinking water issues with public water, GET WET! has grown to include the testing of pubic waters as well.

All are invited to participate!