Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 20, 2013

GMS science teacher combines love of Elkhart River, music for festival


— GOSHEN – Two of Jake Miller’s passions converged as naturally as the Elkhart River does with the St. Joseph.

A 7th grade science teacher at Goshen Middle School, Miller loves natural sciences. He has a special fondness for the Elkhart river. He also loves music, having played in area bands and having lived in the music mecca of Nashville, Tenn.

What resulted was Saturday’s First Elkhart River Festival at the old Goshen powerhouse.

While bands played inside, those in attendance could hear speakers, see demonstrations or just sit outside and enjoy a warm, but cloudy spring evening.

For Eric Kurtz with the Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District, it was a chance to reach young and old alike with his message.

“I think its a benefit to have all ages hear a message of conservation but especially young people,” said Kurtz.

While it may have looked like kids spraying a rough model of Anytown, USA, Kurtz’s watershed model was to teach kids the effect of rain and what happens with runoff.

Dave Troup, president of the Elkhart River Restoration Association, was also on hand Saturday.

His message was simple: Let’s work to improve and restore the Elkhart River.

“You see some kayaks and fishermen out there,” said Troup. “We need to do everything we can to clean it up to make it so more people will use it.”

As for Miller, the fact that he was able to pull off the festival with less than two months of planning was a success in and of itself.

Miller was already looking forward to the festival next year.

“There is just so much you learn when you organize something like this. There are a lot of things I’ll be able to take with me going forward.”

Miller originally toyed with the idea of just a music festival.

“But if it’s just music you are only going to bring in a certain group,” said Miller. “So I combined it with something I love like the Elkhart River to raise people’s consciousness about it. So people can learn how important it is we take care of it.”

Miller hopes as the festival grows, that consciousness will as well.