Visitors who attended the Rock Bridge State Memorial Park water festival experienced many educational and interactive activities. Staff hoped to create a love for nature in the children.

COLUMBIA - Local Missouri conservation groups partnered to hold a water festival at Rock Bridge State Park in the Devil's Icebox parking lot Saturday.

There were six stations set up at the festival and each one featured a different educational activity for visitors to learn about things like waste in local rivers and animals found in the streams.

Missouri River Relief, Missouri Stream Teams, the Missouri Department of Conservation and Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park all teamed up to put on the event to educate the public on each different mission.

"It gives us an opportunity to talk to folks a little bit about the Bonne Femme Watershed Project," Lynn Hooper, urban hydrologist for Boone County Resource Management said.

"It's a great opportunity to introduce people to some activities and folks related to water quality which is what we're interested in."

While the goal of the event was to educate, the water festival also had activities for the younger crowd.

"I think it's the actual activities that really draw the little kids in like the fishing from the Missouri River Relief or the water colors at the Bonne Femme group table or the actual insects that the Department on Conservation has." Jan Weaver with the Board of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park said.

Weaver set up a children's coloring book station at the festival. She gave out a book that children could take home and color about animals to watch for in the streams.

"I've got a copy that we can hand out to parents that they can use to read a story to their kids and the kids become more familiar with the stream animals that live in the park."

Weaver used to teach environmental studies and created the book as a retirement project.

"I'm very interested in getting in as early as I can and creating a caring attitude about nature and an understanding of how it works in little kids so I decided to do a nature themed story book that were coloring books for little kids." Weaver said.

She believes it is important for children to get involved at a young age so they can continue to care for nature as they get older. She hopes this is something she inspired in the children at the festival.

"Most of us who care about the environment probably had an adult who took us out in nature and explained nature to us and helped us become attached to it," Weaver said.

Weaver has been a part of Friends of Rock Bridge for almost two decades and loved the park when she was younger so she is passionate about keeping it safe.

"It was very important to me when I came here as a college student, I got  a lot of memories established that way and I'm really glad I can give back."