About the Watershed Stewards Academy

The National Capital Region WSA

The National Capital Region Watershed Stewards Academy is an initiative of a coalition of watershed protection groups in the Potomac, Rock Creek, Anacostia, and East Patuxent watersheds -- roughly covering Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Master Stewards implement projects that decrease pollution, prevent stormwater runoff, and improve water quality in their community's rivers and streams, thus positively impacting the waterways of the National Capital Region and the Chesapeake Bay.

The Academy

Certification Courses are offered annually and include classroom and field sessions (evenings and weekends) spanning approximately 8 weeks. Topics include Rainscaping techniques, pollution reduction strategies, community outreach and engagement, funding, and many others. Local experts in these fields lead these sessions and serve as resources for stewards throughout the course and afterwards. Following the coursework, each Master Watershed Steward completes a Capstone Project, including outreach and education, a community stormwater assessment, and specific actions and projects to reduce pollutants and improve infiltration of stormwater.

As a Master Watershed Steward, you can help improve the health of the watershed. You will become a resource for your family, friends, and community. In addition, you will have the opportunity to work with other Stewards and professionals to restore your watershed through ongoing projects with neighborhood schools, churches, and businesses. Being a Master Watershed Steward is fun, and rewarding!

Your Role as a Master Watershed Steward

Your role as a Master Watershed Steward is to engage and educate citizens, businesses, and organizations within your local waterway on relevant environmental issues.  Your goal is to reduce the amount of pollution carried from the land into our waterways, while also educating your community about these issues.

To become a Master Watershed Steward you will participate in an intensive certification course, including hands-on training in restoration techniques, and carry out a capstone project that reduces pollution in your local communities such as, coordinating small-scale restoration projects - mostly on private property (installation of rain gardens, green roofs, rain barrels and above ground cisterns, and conservation landscaping, etc) and/or presenting public informational sessions.  After your certification is complete, you will serve as a resource person and community leader in the effort to clean up our local waterways, continuing to coordinate efforts to infiltrate stormwater and reduce pollutant sources within your sub-watershed.

Support by a Consortium

Throughout the course, local experts will teach stewards about local watershed issues and restoration efforts, evaluate local conservation needs, and implement restoration projects in their communities. In addition, your classmates will be professionals from a variety of arenas, and in many cases your classmates will be your best support. These experts will continue to support you through an organized consortium after the course as you engage your community in restoration efforts.

Master Watershed Stewards will be supported in action by:

  • A Consortium of Support Professionals who provide technical assistance to Master Watershed Stewards by consulting on design and development of watershed restoration projects. They also fulfill the role of a "Speakers Bureau."
  • A Tool Box for Sustaining Action with How-to Guides, a Library of Technical and Media Resources, an Inventory of Contacts for Technical Assistance, Mapping Resources, and more.

Expectations of Stewards

Stewards must commit to attending all 7 sessions over approximately an 8 week period and complete a Capstone Project. Each capstone is an individual or small team restoration project that reduces pollution in a local waterway. Stewards may have a project idea upon entering the course or develop one along the way, and the experts met during the course will help in this process. Funding for projects is available through the Academy, and stewards are encouraged to raise additional funding to promote community engagement and support.

Stewards have one year after completion of their coursework to install their capstone project. Afterwards, stewards are expected to participate in both continuing education (3 sessions a year) and volunteering (40 hours a year) to remain an active Master Watershed Steward. Stewards are also expected to continue to work in their communities to educate their neighbors about local watershed issues and restoration efforts. Your training as a Watershed Steward makes you a unique and important resource in your community, as well as a great advocate for clean water.



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Did You Know?

storm*water: (n) any drop of water that does not evaporate or soak into the ground when it rains. Also called polluted runoff.
water*shed: (n) A watershed is an area of land where water collects to flow into a river, a lake, or another large body of water. We all live in a watershed.