The Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program was established to help address nonpoint source pollution, which remains one of the biggest challenges facing surface water quality in Pennsylvania.
From stormwater runoff to acid mine drainage to nutrients from farms, nonpoint source pollution runs off from hundreds of thousands of individual sites throughout the state into Pennsylvania streams and rivers.
No number of government regulators and environmental professionals could possibly address all the one-on-one outreach, engagement, and action needed to make change to so many sites, over so great an area.
The sheer investment of time needed to make a difference requires ground-level citizen engagement.
The Master Watershed Steward program creates a corps of environmentally literate adult learners who will, in turn, volunteer in their communities to pass their knowledge to youth, adults, and elected officials through educational programming and on-the-ground restoration projects.
In 2016, with support from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Master Watershed Steward Program, was offered in 13 counties across the state, including: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Wyoming, and York.
There are now 150 Master Watershed Stewards and they reported 3,662 volunteer hours, valued at $85,690.
They directly educated 9,693 Pennsylvania residents about environmental stewardship practices through offering workshops, providing programming in 47 schools, and staffing information booths at over 43 community events.
They also connected with over 100,000 residents indirectly through newspaper articles, newsletters and social media.
Across the state, the Master Watershed Stewards assisted 53 community partners with environmental education and restoration projects.
They also helped install and maintained 10 demonstration rain gardens, helped to plant 351 trees, sampled 7 streams, assisted 5 municipalities and built 61 rain barrels!For more information on the program generally, and an application form, visit the Penn State Master Watershed Stewards Programs webpage. For more information on the program generally, and an application form, visit the Penn State Master Watershed Stewards Programs webpage.
(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Dec. 19 Watershed Winds newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)