Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) Members serve under the guidance of a Placement Site organization for 10 ½ months to assess, monitor, and enhance watersheds. While each Placement Site’s overall strategy, effort, and timing of service activities varies, all Members will participate in the following types of service:
Watershed Recovery and Protection (72% of Members’ time)
Members work cooperatively with natural resource agencies, landowners, land managers, and community-based organizations, surveying streams and watersheds using State and Federal protocols. Members assist in the coordination and implementation of projects including, but not limited to: invasive species removal; rebuilding, restoring and expanding riparian buffers; spawning surveys; native species seed collection, propagation, and planting; installing large woody debris; in-stream habitat surveys; removing/improving fish passage barriers; monitoring culverts; water quality and water quantity monitoring; road decommissioning and fire fuel reduction; installing and maintaining water catchment systems and rain water gardens; and monitoring and maintenance of restoration projects.
Members also spend time analyzing data to help generate reports and specific prescriptions for management of those streams and watersheds. These projects include, but are not limited to: restoration project development and design; data entry and analysis; landowner access agreements; GIS mapping; quantitative watershed research; and technical writing.
Education and Outreach (13% of Members’ time)
Members serve in local Title I schools to educate the next generation by instructing K-8 students in watershed and salmonid science utilizing the Wonders of Watershed (WOW!) curriculum. The WOW! curriculum consists of six lessons pertaining to: watersheds, the water cycle, salmonids, stream health, habitat, and water conservation and stewardship. All Members teach the curriculum in at least one classroom, to at least 25 students.
Members also engage the community in outreach throughout their service term by providing outreach presentations and educational opportunities to students and community members, including: episodic classroom visits, environmental education fairs, field trips, community service projects, and presentations to community members, natural resource professionals, and students relating to conserving, restoring, and sustaining local watersheds. All Members participate in one Outreach Event organized by WSP during their service term.
Volunteer Recruitment (10% of Members’ time)
WSP places a high priority on volunteer recruitment and engagement. Each Member completes one Watershed Awareness Project (WAP) in which they recruit, train, and manage 30 volunteers in a hands-on watershed restoration project. Members are also encouraged to think of other ways to engage and educate community volunteers, local school groups, and local businesses. Coordinating these events helps WSP Members develop professionally and strengthens communities through the development of partnerships between people, groups and organizations, and their connection to the local environment.
Member Training and Professional Development (5% of Members’ time)
Members participate in all mandatory WSP trainings and meetings; including a week-long orientation, a three-day regional training, WSP Member Exits, and the WSP Member Recognition Ceremony. Training topics include, but are not limited to: Wilderness First Aid/CPR; swift-water safety; civic engagement; career and professional development; teaching skills; watershed surveying and sampling methodologies; data analyses; and fundamentals of watershed restoration, and program policies. Members also participate in regular training at their Placement Site.