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About Us

Our Mission & Values

Our Mission 

Keeping water clean, safe and healthy is the heart of our mission. We work to protect and restore our water and natural environment in central New Jersey through conservation, advocacy, science and education.

Our Values 

The Watershed Institute holds the values described below in all aspects of what we do at our Watershed Center and Reserve as well as in our work in the surrounding communities in central New Jersey and beyond. We believe that clean water is a fundamental human right. In working to advance this goal, we:

Welcome our visitors, members, volunteers, and staff with enthusiasm, kindness and respect.

Strive
to create a place at the Watershed Center and Reserve where everyone, from diverse
backgrounds − culture, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age,
religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, and physical and mental ability − feels comfortable
and safe exploring and enjoying natural spaces.

Pledge to work for clean water and a healthy environment, including in communities that have
been unjustly affected by systematic racism and environmental pollution. Environmental justice
will be achieved when all people enjoy strong and effective protection from environmental and
health hazards, access to green spaces, and equal access to the decision-making processes for
creating healthy environments in which to live, learn, and work. We will work in partnership with
other organizations toward this goal.

Provide
environmental education, with a focus on water, which instills wonder about the natural
world and its biodiversity. We hope that by teaching others about the interconnectedness of all
living things, we will help participants embrace diversity and biodiversity in their own
communities.

Steward
our 950-acre reserve with the goal of preserving the land and water so it continues to
provide healthy habitats for many generations to come. It will also provide a natural place of
refuge and sanctuary for all visitors. We recognize that the land and water now under our care are
the traditional and ancestral territory of the Lenni-Lenape. We pay respect to Lenape people’s
past, present, and future and their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the
Lenape diaspora.

Involve
people from our local communities in important scientific data collection to help us
monitor the health of our waterways, watersheds and plant and animal habitats.

Empower
people to advocate for clean and healthy water and the conservation of watersheds
and nature in the towns and regions where they live.

Listen
to our local communities so we can be better partners working towards shared
environmental goals. We recognize that too often the voices of low-income people and communities of
color are not heard.

Acknowledge that human behaviors are responsible for the recent changes in our planet’s
climate and loss of biodiversity. We will strive to create authentic partnerships to support
communities that are and will become disproportionately more impacted by climate change. We
will continue to educate people of all ages about how to protect and preserve the environment
and how they can spread truthful information in their communities.

Our staff includes policy advocates, scientists, land and water stewards, naturalists and educators. We speak out for water and the environment, protect and restore sensitive habitats, test our waterways for pollution, and inspire others to care for the natural world. We focus much of our work in the Stony Brook-Millstone and the adjacent part of the Central Delaware River Watersheds, while also leading several statewide initiatives.

As a non-profit organization we depend on the support of members and volunteers. Learn how you can help us protect central New Jersey’s water and environment.

Get Involved

Conservation

From our nearly 1,000-acre nature reserve in Hopewell Township, Mercer County to locations across central New Jersey, Watershed staff and volunteers work to protect and restore our natural habitats. Our reserve hosts the LEED-Platinum Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science & Education; the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House; the Honey Brook Organic Farm; 4-acre Wargo Pond and more than 10 miles of hiking trails. The Watershed has partnered with other organizations to preserve thousands of additional acres, and created the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey and the D&R Greenway Land Trust.

Advocacy

For more than seven decades, The Watershed Institute has led the fight to preserve our region’s water and land. We engage local and state policy makers, urging them to strengthen environmental protections, improve planning and zoning, and make more informed decisions about our future. We work cooperatively with local towns through our Project for Municipal Excellence, and speak out against development proposals–from pipelines to tract housing–that threaten forests, wetlands, streams and other fragile habitats.

Science and Stewardship

Across the region, we collect key data on the health of our streams and on other environmental factors. We distribute the information to residents and public officials, and work with them to address pollution of our water supplies and waterways. We design and implement strategies to restore degraded habitats, like removing dams that harm our rivers and installing green infrastructure systems to address polluted stormwater runoff. Our GIS Center (Geographic Information System) combines scientific data with mapping systems to promote better understanding of environmental issues facing our communities. Our “River-Friendly” program works with residents, schools, businesses and golf courses to help them become better environmental stewards.

Education

The Watershed Institute serves more than 13,000 children, teens and adults through nearly 350 programs and events each year. Our experts teach environmental science through an inquiry-based, problem solving model. Watershed Nature Camp inspires an appreciation of nature in children from Kindergarten through 9th grade and our summer science academy engages high school students in real-world environmental challenges. We train K-12 science teachers in engaging, hands on workshops and provide adult programs that tap college professors to provide in-depth learning on natural history and other topics.

What We’re Doing To Protect Water

Learn More

History of the ‘Shed’

In 1949 a handful of farsighted community leaders joined forces to form the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, now known as The Watershed Institute. Concerned at the time about agricultural runoff, soil erosion, and stream sedimentation, the Watershed Association became central New Jersey’s first environmental group.

Since that time, our focus has evolved. Today we protect clean water and the environment through a combination of conservation, advocacy, science and education. Thanks to the loyal support of our members and volunteers the Watershed Institute has grown into one of the largest and most respected watershed associations in the country.

Important figures in Our History:

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