In 2013, the WCLV collaborated with Penn State Cooperative Extension to create Pennsylvania’s first Master Watershed Steward program. Three years later, the Lehigh Valley program has over 50 active volunteers, and new county programs are in the works in ten other counties.
What is the Penn State Master Watershed Steward Program?
The Penn State Master Watershed Steward program was established to strengthen local capacity for management and protection of watersheds, streams, and rivers, by educating and empowering volunteers across the commonwealth. The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in watershed management. In return for the training, participants dedicate volunteer time to educate the community about watershed stewardship based on university research and recommendations.
Training and volunteer service are coordinated at the county level by extension staff, partners, or trained volunteers. Generally 15-20 people are selected for the program each year. Those accepted to the program attend training classes that focus on a broad range of water resource topics, including groundwater, stream ecology, wetlands, invasive plants, water recreation and stormwater management. There is a one-time registration cost to those accepted into the program. This is to cover the cost of the manual, name tag, and cost of the meeting facilities.
What do Penn State Master Watershed Stewards do?
Master Watershed Stewards work with the community to improve the health of our streams and rivers.
Example projects include:
- Organizing educational and informational workshops for the public, students and municipal officials on topics such as rain barrels, wildlife, pollution prevention, stormwater management, and invasive plant control
- Organizing and executing stream clean ups
- Designing and installing demonstration rain gardens
- Monitoring streams for bacteria
- Carrying out stream bank restoration projects
What is required of a Penn State Master Watershed Steward?
To become a Master Watershed Steward, you need a keen interest in the environment, a willingness to learn more and most importantly, a strong desire to make a difference in the community. Whether you are a teacher, an accountant, a construction worker, a homemaker, or retired, you can become a Master Watershed Steward!
To become a certified Master Watershed Steward, you must complete a minimum of 40 hours of training and fulfill 50 hours of volunteer service. In subsequent years, you can maintain your Master Watershed Steward status by giving at least 20 additional volunteer hours and attending at least 8 hours of update training annually.
Where is the Master Watershed Steward Program offered?
Currently, Penn State Extension offers or will soon offer the Master Watershed Steward Program in the following counties:
How do I become a Penn State Master Watershed Steward?
If you live in the participating counties or would like to establish a program in your county, contact Erin Frederick at 610-391-9840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.