Monday, January 24, 2022

Penn State Master Watershed Steward Program – A Look Back On 2021’s Accomplishments

By Erin Frederick, Master Watershed Steward Coordinator

In 2021, the Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program grew to 770 dedicated community volunteers in 28 counties that logged 25,752 volunteer hours across the state. 

Since the program began in 2013, this brings the total volunteer hours to 79,828 hours, valued at $2.2 million.

In their collective efforts this past year, working with local conservation organizations, the Master Watershed Stewards:

-- Made over 14,500 personal contacts with Pennsylvania residents and shared information on protecting our water resources

-- Assisted 52 municipalities with their required stormwater education and outreach

-- Gave 48 presentations to local community organizations and organized 34 workshops

-- Set up educational displays and engaged with residents at 71 community events

-- Taught students about the environment in 55 schools

-- 133 Master Watershed Stewards worked on projects with their local watershed associations; 40 worked with their municipal environmental advisory councils

-- Planted 12,582 trees

-- Disbursed 372 rain barrels

-- Wrote 54 educational articles

-- Conducted water quality monitoring on 135 sites along 90 streams and erosion monitoring on 33 sites

-- Installed 17 rain gardens, maintained 32 rain gardens (21,975 sq ft), and restored 49 acres of habitat and 3,232 meters of stream bank

Statewide, in collaboration with the Nature Nurture Center, Master Watershed Stewards launched the Watershed-Friendly Property Certification Program to educate property-owners across the state on best practices to improve the water quality of their yards. 

Once those practices were implemented, residents could apply to certify their property as Watershed-Friendly. 

So far, 269 properties have been certified in 19 counties. 

In partnership with the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, county programs in Allegheny, Berks, Indiana, Monroe and Chester received funding from PA American Water to install live-stake nurseries. 

Each nursery contains six species of native shrubs that, when mature, will provide branch cuttings to conservation organizations and streamside landowners, thus assuring the material for future efforts to protect more streams and habitats locally.

Geographically, the Master Watershed Steward Program moved into additional counties--Schuylkill; a regional program in Erie, Crawford, and Warren; and another regional program in Cameron, Elk, McKean, and Potter--thereby substantially expanding opportunities for advancing watershed protection in the state. 

Adams and Franklin Counties will be merged with Cumberland County to create a regional program thanks to funding from the Department of Environmental Protection, and Susquehanna County will launch a program in 2022.

[Visit the Penn State Master Watershed Steward Program webpage to learn more about Master Watershed Steward opportunities in your county.]

(Reprinted from the latest Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Related Articles:

-- PA Chapter Of Natural Resources Extension Professionals Names Ross Snook Of Montgomery County Natural Resources Education Champion

-- Master Watershed Steward Program Receives Healing The Planet Grant From The GIANT Company 

[Posted: January 24, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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