Watershed Stewards Academy 2017

Looking Back with Gratitude

By Matt Gallagher, Manager of Community-based Restoration

As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone that’s helped me carry the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) through a truly successful year.

Participation in the WSA is a commitment; stewards have to attend 8 classes over the course of several months AND complete a capstone project - putting their fresh training to use in a big way. Now don’t get me wrong (although I may be a bit biased), participating in the WSA is super fun! Classes include a boat trip on the Anacostia River, sampling and studying freshwater macroinvertebrates, learning about trash reduction initiatives occurring in the watershed, taking a tour of stormwater management practices, and more! However, taking 8 classes is still a major time commitment, especially for folks that have day jobs, families to take care of, pets, and/or all of the other things that compete for our time and attention. Through the course of the semesters, I found myself full of gratitude and admiration for my stewards who prioritized their time to learn how to be a leader for the Anacostia River. 

This year’s completed capstone projects show the range of activities that can be done to engage the community in stormwater issues. We had:

  • An educational boat tour for members of UMD’s iSchool
  • A weeding and replanting event of bioretention cells at a District school
  • A rain barrel education and distribution workshop
  • A freshwater mussel survey
  • Invasive plant removal events on Kingman Island
  • A Thanksgiving “Trash Trot” event in Brentwood
  • A Reiki on the River event
  • ...And the formation of the Friends of Titanic Memorial Park!

So first and foremost, I have to thank the 40 residents of the District and Prince George’s County that were willing to go on this journey with me by completing the WSA coursework this year.  In addition, I want to recognize the amazing partner organizations that have helped me develop and implement the WSA classes.  This past year, over 12 staff from the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Audubon Naturalist Society, DC Department of Energy and Environment, University of Maryland, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust have all led awesome WSA classes on a variety of topics.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to do it without you all.  

And last but not least, as I start implementing continuing education and engagement opportunities to past and present stewards, I have to thank the stellar staff of Anacostia Watershed Society. This past fall we offered two events specifically for WSA alumni; a water quality demonstration boat tour and a meadow restoration event at the confluence of the Northeast and Northwest Branches of the Anacostia River, which were both led by members of the AWS team (see photos).

So to wrap up, thanks everyone for a great year, and expect even more great things from the Watershed Stewards Academy in 2018!

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