Jennifer Catsos - Program Manager
Zia Schatz - Program Coordinator I
Jody Weseman - Program Coordinator II
Stephanie Birmingham - Member Coordinator/Office Manager
Sarah Jones - Program Assistant
The Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) is a comprehensive, community-based, watershed protection, restoration and education program. Established in the spring of 1994, WSP was created by biologists and educators and brought together by the California Conservation Corps to fill critical gaps in scientific data collection, restoration efforts and community education.
In the past 22 years, WSP members have accomplished the following: inventoried over 35,000 miles through stream, riparian and upslope surveys; generated over 3,000 scientific reports and databases; developed over 1,700 watershed restoration projects; instructed over 50,000 students on salmonid lifecycles and watershed processes; provided outreach to over 238,000 students and community members; and engaged more than 17,000 community volunteers in hands-on restoration projects. Integral to the WSP are the strong collaborations and high caliber of member service activities, both of which have helped create a model for community-based watershed monitoring, enhancement, and education.
In collaboration with private landowners, timber companies, tribal communities, commercial and sport fishing industry representatives, teachers, community members, non-profit organizations, and public agencies, the WSP’s partnerships work to revitalize watersheds that contain endangered and threatened species by using state-of-the-art data collection and watershed restoration techniques. The WSP has hosted a diverse group of placement sites including federal, state, county, tribal, and non-profit agencies and organizations and continues to diversify its partner sites by performing outreach throughout the state. The WSP facilitates collaborations between partners by providing opportunities for placement site mentors to discuss projects and protocols as well as share data and resources such as: member services, vehicles, and training opportunities.
WSP partners greatly value the work members accomplish. For example, WSP’s collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service has afforded WSP the honor of receiving the Rise to the Future award in 2012 for the program’s partnership and efforts to improve fisheries resources on Forest Service lands.
Due to the WSP’s powerful partnerships, the program has proven to be a career launching point that provides its members direct experience and valuable training that other entry level positions rarely offer. 80% of WSP's placement sites have employeed a WSP alumni. The program’s alumni continue to be strong contributors in their communities and to the natural resources field.
46 WSP Members will serve a minimum of 1700 hours under the mentorship of natural resource professionals throughout California's coastal communities from October 5th 2015 – August 12th, 2016. WSP Members primarily work on scientific watershed assessment, monitoring, restoration, and conservation projects.
Members also participate in community outreach and education activities. Each WSP Placement Site engages two or more Members in all service activity areas, and each site's overall strategy, emphasis, effort, and timing of service activities varies.
WSP Members address watershed and fish habitat restoration needs through the implementation of a four-part strategy: Watershed Protection and Recovery, Watershed Education and Outreach, Volunteer Recruitment and Member Development.
Watershed Protection and Recovery (72%): Working cooperatively with natural resource agencies, landowners, and community-based organizations, the WSP Members survey streams and watersheds using State and Federal protocols. These scientifically-based surveys assess current fish populations, stream flows, water temperatures, habitat conditions, and threats such as sediment and other pollutants. Members analyze data and generate reports for habitat restoration. They assist in the coordination and implementation of restoration work plans which include, but are not limited to: reducing water temperatures by planting trees, reducing sediment entering the stream by stabilizing stream banks, and adding logs (LWD) and other materials to increase habitat complexity and to preserve salmonid spawning sites which are vital to the health of these fish populations.
The WSP Members collect data through habitat, riparian and upslope surveys. They compile data into reports and databases that will aid in identification of areas that need improvement. Through watershed assessment, monitoring, and restoration, projects leading to increased/improved habitat for salmonids will be designed and implemented. Other specific examples of monitoring and restoration activities are: spawner surveys, downstream migrant trapping, gravel sampling, tree planting, invasive plant removals, and installing Low Impact Development (LID) project such as rainwater catchment systems and rain gardens. Note: Members placed at Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) sites are reimbursed by WSP for some field related expenses (i.e. food expenses while camping in remote locations while collecting data for CDFW).
Watershed Education and Outreach (13%): Members serve in local Title I schools to educate K-12 students in watershed and salmonid science. Members utilize the WSP’s Wonders of Watersheds (WOW!) curriculum and education program (formerly known as Real Science) which is aligned with California State Education Standards. The curriculum consists of a minimum of six, one-hour lessons pertaining to: watershed ecology; water conservation; and salmonid life cycle, habitat, and anatomy. Additional activities to expand students’ awareness and interest of salmonids and watershed ecology/protection in their local communities include field trips to local streams, hatcheries, and environmental education fairs. Members organize service-learning projects so students can apply knowledge gained in the classroom through hands-on restoration.
The WSP Members participate in mission-related outreach events where they provide presentations and educational opportunities to community members, natural resource professionals, and students. Presentations specifically focus on watershed processes, salmonid life cycles, and sound land use practices in order to provide information on the scientific basis for restoration activities and environmental policies. The WSP’s involvement in these events builds cooperative relationships amongst teachers, students, community members, and private landowners.
Volunteer Recruitment (10%): Members grow professionally by coordinating a Watershed Awareness Project (WAP) (formerly known as an Individual Service Project) where they recruit, train, and manage 30 volunteers in the implementation of a hands-on watershed restoration project. Members and volunteers learn a variety of transferable/marketable skills, and communities are strengthened by developing partnerships between people and organizations. Participants may also experience a heightened connection to their local environment. WAPs occur throughout the service year (October – July).
Member Development (5% of members’ term of service): Members attend two WSP trainings (WSP’s Program Orientation & Regional Training). Members seek travel reimbursement for attending all WSP sponsored trainings.
Watershed Stewards Program’s (WSP) Wonders of Watershed Education Program aims to provide classrooms with quality watershed and salmonid lessons that students can apply to understanding their local watersheds. The WOW! Program is a six-visit interactive series of lessons (generally one hour per week), which focuses on California’s coastal watersheds, watershed-related topics and salmonid species, salmon and trout, provided at no cost to schools within our project communities. Trained WSP members typically present the series in pairs and can accommodate K-12 classrooms of approximately 30 students. WOW! was formerly referred to as Real Science.
The curriculum is aligned with California State Content Standards and can be tailored to incorporate additional standards. Opportunities to incorporate field trips and service learning projects can be explored as well.
Overall the education component of the WSP program has been extremely successful. Since the programs creation in 1994, WSP members have instructed 40,573 students using the WOW! curriculum on salmon lifecycles, watershed processes and best land-use practices, as well as shared scientifically-based salmon and watershed restoration information with 237,174 students and community members.
For any questions or requests to participate in the WSP Wonders of Watersheds program, please contact the WSP Team Leader at 707-725-8601 or by email at email@example.com
WSP members also offer single visits for teachers who may not have the time for the extended visits, but would still like to incorporate some watershed education. These single visits vary and can include fish dissections, a salmonid life-cycle slide show presentation or educational games and art projects.
WSP members help strengthen communities through environmentally-based public outreach activities that include assisting in the organization of environmental education fairs, delivering presentations to community members and service groups, coordinating a hands-on community restoration project, and staffing public information booths at fairs and other public events.
Region I Office
1455-C Sandy Prairie Ct
Fortuna, CA 95540
Phone: (707) 725-8601
Fax: (707) 725-8602
Region II Office
1530 Madera Ave
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Phone: (805) 542-8461
Fax: (877) 568-8937