The St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards (SCMWS) program is seeking adults (18+) to participate in a community of active learners, observing and practicing successful strategies aimed at protecting the St. Croix River watershed. Application materials can be found online at www.stcroixstewards.org. Applications for the first session will be accepted through February 22.
Stewards will participate in 58 hours of hands-on learning and 12 hours of distance learning over a nine-month period including a capstone project. The first group of stewards will begin classes in late March. Program topics include Watershed Resource Education, Leadership Education, Civic Organizing Principles and Using the Arts in sustainable project development. Stewards will work in partnership with a host organization (school, municipality, club, or agency) to create a project that contributes to the future wellness of the watershed. Funding is provided for capstone projects and the program is offered at no charge to qualified applicants, who must have a residence within the boundaries of the St. Croix River Watershed.
The goal of the SCMWS program is to dramatically increase the environmental stewardship ethic and activities in the St. Croix River watershed.
Please visit the website for more information on the project, including how organizations/agencies can become host sites for capstone projects.
An Environmental Education grant of $192,200 has been awarded to the St. Croix Valley Foundation on behalf of a consortium of nonprofit organizations in the St. Croix Watershed. The EPA Office of Environmental Education made just three grants in the nation under a request for proposals looking for innovative ways to protect natural resources. A required local match brings the budget to nearly $260,000 for a two-year pilot project called “St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards,” an effort that will certify at least 36 master watershed stewards in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2016 and 2017.
“Our pilot project is based on best practices coming out of Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs throughout the country,” said project liaison Danette Olsen, who authored the grant proposal. “During our research phase, we learned from the Penn State Master Watershed Stewards program, the Minnehaha Creek Master Water Stewards program, and the Watershed Stewards Academy of Anne Arundel County (Maryland), among many others.”
The St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards (SCMWS) pilot project combines environmental education, leadership development, and community organizing in a comprehensive watershed stewardship curriculum with a capstone service-learning project. This hybrid curriculum is made even more innovative by including activities that incorporate the arts in an effort to demonstrate the power of the arts to engage the community, thereby creating even greater awareness and impact.
To become a certified Master Watershed Steward, adult learners will commit to six day-long field trips (two of which are overnight expeditions) and six on-line sessions. This process will take place over the course of six to seven months and is followed by a capstone learning project that is designed in collaboration with a host site. An exciting part of the program is that small grants will be available for the stewards to implement their capstone project. Another exciting aspect is that all fees associated with the SCMWS program are paid for through the EPA-EE grant.
Patty Mueller has been hired to serve as the Project Manager for SCMWS and she comes to the project with many years of experience in environmental education.
“I am eager to get this project off the ground,” said Mueller, “and feel so proud that our region received funding to help communities and organizations work together to protect the St. Croix River and all the sub-watersheds.”
To learn more about the St. Croix Master Watershed Stewards pilot project, visit their website at www.stcroixstewards.org.