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Exploring Watersheds and Water Management with “Junior Raindrop”

The Science Teacher—September/October 2021 (Volume 89, Issue 1)

By Danna Bell

What does a cartoon about raindrops have to do with water management? In 1948 the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a short animated film called “The Adventures of Junior Raindrop.” In this seven-minute production, Junior Raindrop is roused from his slumber by his father, Papa Cloud, and sent down to his “Mother Earth.”

At the start of his time on Earth, Junior joins other raindrops and visits watersheds that have not been properly managed. Plants are dying because ranchers have allowed livestock to over graze lands. There is erosion caused by too few plants keeping the soil in place because people have not replaced those plants lost to forest fires, logging, and other land management issues.

Soon Junior joins a larger group of raindrops, and together they start a flash flood that gets bigger and eventually floods a community bringing loss of property and of life. Papa Cloud sees what is happening and asks the sun to bring Junior back to him. Junior comes back and rejoins his father until the next time he is sent to Mother Earth.

The film uses Junior Raindrop’s character and experiences to provide information on the impact of improper watershed management on communities and the importance of water in our lives. It also provides information on how people can protect the watershed and ensure that soil stays where it belongs so that crops can grow, water is preserved, and communities are protected from the potential of floods.

Sharing this film with students can spur discussions on water management, erosion and land management. This film might also lead to discussions on climate change, the aging water-related infrastructure in cities (including water pipes that may have been made with lead), issues related to water and sewage treatment, and strategies for bringing water to places with limited water supply through the use of dams and other water control techniques.

About the Source

The film “The Adventures of Junior Raindrop” is a part of the National Screening Room collection of films from the Library of Congress. This collection includes films that may not have been available for many years to the general public. There are a variety of films available on water conservation and other environmental issues within this collection, including additional historic films produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For additional information on USDA history, see:

Also included within the National Screening Room are some of the films that are part of the National Film Registry The Registry includes films considered to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” that have been earmarked for preservation by the Library of Congress. The award-winning 1938 film, “The River” is available at:

Danna Bell ( is an Educational Resources Specialist at the Library of Congress.

Related Student Explorations

  • Watersheds
  • Soil Management
  • Water Treatment
  • The work and history of the U.S. Forest Service

Danna Bell ( is an Educational Resources Specialist at the Library of Congress.

Environmental Science

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