This year, Penn State Extension and the Lebanon, Lancaster, and Dauphin County Conservation Districts are launching the Master Watershed Steward (MWS) Extension program in their respective districts.
20-25 people will be selected for the joint Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon program. The program and subsequent volunteer service will certify participants to be Master Watershed Stewards.
What is a Master Watershed Steward?
According to PennState Extension’s website, “Master Watershed Stewards work with the community to improve the health of our streams, rivers and other natural resources.”
The Lower Susquehanna Program expands upon participants’ knowledge in related topics and encourages them to perform conservation outreach.
Certified Master Watershed Stewards work on projects such as stream restoration/clean-ups, organizing educational events, or habitat improvement.
The website notes that, “To become a Master Watershed Steward, you need a keen interest in the environment, a willingness to learn more and most importantly, a strong desire to make a difference in the community.”
After completing the training program, Master Watershed Stewards must volunteer at least 20 hours and participate in at least eight hours of update training each year to remain certified.
A Penn State Extension press release noted that the MWS program currently has 302 volunteers across 18 counties in Pennsylvania.
What does the Master Watershed Steward Extension Program entail?
Interested in becoming a Master Watershed Steward?
The training program includes 40 hours of training focused on relevant topics such as water quality and native plants. After training, participants in the program undergo 50 hours of volunteer service throughout the year on MWS projects.
“This program will provide many opportunities to do satisfying volunteer work in an exciting field, have access to the most current information on environmental conservation, and meet lots of wonderful people,” according to Penn State Extension.
All are welcome to apply for the program, though those under 18 must be accompanied with a guardian or adult.
The Lower Susquehanna Program will take place every Tuesday starting March 3 through May, from 6-8:30 p.m. The program also includes Saturday field trips.
These dates are fairly stringent, so only apply if serious about the program: participants are allowed to miss one session in the case of an unavoidable scheduling conflict.
At the end of the $125 course, participants must pass the MWS exam with 80% or higher to be certified. Scholarships are available.
How do I apply for the program?
Prior to the March program, people interested in applying should attend an information meeting.
The Lebanon meeting already passed on Jan. 8. However, Lebanon residents can still attend the Dauphin County meeting on Jan. 14 (7 p.m. at the Dauphin County Extension Office) or the Lancaster County meeting on Jan. 21 (7 p.m. at the Lancaster County Extension Office). Register for these meetings here.
If you cannot attend either of these meetings but are still interested in the program, you can set up a phone call or in-person meeting with MWS Coordinator Casey Clauser, reachable by phone at (717) 270-4391 or by email here.
Here are photos of participants in the MWS training program, provided by Clauser.