by Dennis Dalman
The Jake and Stefanie Rothstein family learned together that small everyday actions can add up to big results.
The couple and their two children – Caden, 12; and Evie, 9 – were recently honored as one of five winners in the Clean Water Bingo effort. It is a program created by the Central Minnesota Water Education Alliance, of which many cities are members, including Sartell. The focus of the alliance is to provide educational outreach to promote water-quality stewardship, largely through making simple but effective behavioral changes.
In April 2018, the Rothsteins were at an Earth Day Expo when they happened to see bingo cards – something to do with clean water activities. They took one of the bingo cards and – back home – they reviewed what the card said. On each of its squares an activity was printed, such as clean up after pets, sweep grass clippings off of the street and collect rain water to water plants and flowers.
The object of the “game” is to put an X through each square after that particular task has been completed. Eventually, the task squares could add up to a line of bingo and the chance, ultimately, to win prizes.
Then the Rothsteins decided to put the bingo card on the front of their refrigerator. They quickly agreed it would be a family effort, with all members either taking turns with tasks or doing some of them together as a family unit.
In the weeks and months that followed, all four of the Rothsteins completed tasks, and as they did they all became more and more aware of the need to conserve and to protect water quality here, there and everywhere. The children became diligent about picking up the droppings from their pets and in not running faucet water constantly while brushing their teeth. The parents, too, did many tasks, such as bringing household waste to designated drop-off sites, getting rid of un-needed medications and making sure stormwater sewers in streets were not clogged.
Other bingo-card tasks included the following:
Run only full loads of laundry or dishes.
Drink tap water instead of bottled water.
Wash your car on grass instead of on a driveway or parking lot.
Minimize use of fertilizer on lawns and gardens.
Keep fat, grease and cooking oils out of drains, toilets and plumbing.
Before playing Clean Water Bingo, the Rothsteins agreed to the following pledge:
“I pledge to help keep our water drinkable, fishable and swimmable by making clean-water choices at my home, in my yard, with my car and with my pets.”
Since they started the bingo game, the Rothsteins won bingo 12 times, enough to put them in the winners’ circle and, finally, one of the five winners.
As a bingo winner, the Rothsteins won four movie tickets to the Parkwood 18 movie theater in Waite Park.
“We haven’t seen a movie yet because we decided to wait for a bad-weather day,” Stefanie said. “The weather is too beautiful yet to sit in a movie theater.”
Her sentiment is not surprising because the Rothsteins are avid outdoors people who love to have adventures while hiking, camping and swimming. Their love of nature had already raised their awareness of how everyone should pitch in to protect water and air and other natural resources.
Years ago, Stefanie helped found a local organization dubbed HIKEhoppers, which connects people to nature through hiking events, learning sessions and wellness services with the ongoing goal of supporting healthier and happier communities.
Jake is an electrician who works for Stearns County. Son Caden is a student at Sartell Middle School, and Evie attends Oak Ridge Elementary School, also in Sartell.
The Rothstein family now has a new bingo card on the fridge for 2019. Anyone can join the bingo game. To play, just go to H2YouMN.com and then download a bingo card.