About the Program

What’s a Master Watershed Steward?

There is a whole new set of volunteers being trained at Penn State Extension! They are the Master Watershed Stewards-ordinary citizens with a passion for the conservation of our water resources.

The Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward program trains citizens to be informed and helpful volunteers. They organize stream cleanups, design and install rain gardens or streamside plantings, and organize educational workshops on topics such as backyard conservation or homeowner storm water management. The first class graduated last year and they have already been put to work improving the health of our watersheds. The program strengthens local capacity for management and protection of watersheds, streams, and rivers, by educating and empowering volunteers across the commonwealth.

Watershed Stewards enjoy fishing, kayaking, and the outdoors, or just have an interest in the water we drink and swim in. They are people who want to give back to their community and learn how to make our environment a safe and healthy, for humans and animals alike. The program, run out of the Lehigh and Northampton offices of the Penn State Extension, offers 40 hours of comprehensive training for citizens of all ages and backgrounds. The volunteers learn about water quality, stream health, native plants, habitat, outdoor recreation, groundwater, and much more. After completing the initial training, graduates fulfill a 50 hour volunteering requirement their first year. In subsequent years, volunteers can maintain their status by donating 20 hours of their time to watershed projects, and completing 10 hours of continued education.

The Master Watershed Stewards have been using their training to improve the health of our local ecosystem. The program has been successful in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and the first class in Montgomery County will be trained this fall.  Maya Hayden, a recent graduate of the program, said that “The training was eye-opening, I had no idea that our environment was so threatened, and I am very excited to start putting my education to work turning it around.”

To find out more, check out the Lehigh/Northampton county website:  http://extension.psu.edu/lehigh/news/spotlight/become-a-lehigh-county-master-watershed-steward

Or the Montgomery County website: http://extension.psu.edu/montgomery/news/2014/2014-master-watershed-steward-program-call-for-volunteers

For people from around the state and the country interested in starting their own programs, contact Erin Frederick at 610-391-9840. Complete program materials have been developed, including a standard curriculum, a how-to manual, press releases, standard forms, and program presentations.

Master Watershed Stewards Ross Mclennon and Terry Cornell putting in a rain garden by the Bushkill Township Building

Master Watershed Stewards Fiona Adamsky and Tom Zimmerman plant a riparian buffer along Hokendauqua a creek

One of the Program Coordinators, Rebecca Kennedy, displaying a red eared slider  

The class taking a kayak trip with several stops along the way to learn about the importance of macroinvertabrates