Watershed Science & Stewardship Academy

 From Exploration to Action!

The Academy is a program that began in 2015 to provide high school students with opportunities to have fun participating in real science and stewardship while building their college resume!

Each Academy class is a week-long environmental investigation designed to capture the same spirit of wonder and inquiry as our Nature Camp, but engage students in science and stewardship practices that foster awareness, and promote investigation, action, and leadership as they enter college and service roles in their community.

Topics include water quality, green architecture, forest health, sustainability, and the scientific process.  Students work on green infrastructure projects and are directly involved in the ongoing scientific studies with the Watershed Association to help guide local, state, and federal agencies in environmental policy-making decisions.

Based on the Next Generation Science Standards, the curriculum of each class involves:

  • Asking questions & defining problems
  • Constructing explanations & designing solutions
  • Planning & carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing & interpreting data
  • Using math & computational thinking
  • Obtaining, evaluating & communicating information

The 2017 Summer Academies Include:

Clean Water Academy | July 10–14

Arguably the most serious threat to the future of clean drinking water and healthy river & stream ecosystems is the amount of nutrients, pesticides, fertilizers, and many other chemicals that accumulate in stormwater runoff and flush into our rivers and streams.  Students in this class will:

  • Investigate the sources and mechanisms for non-point source pollution.
  • Measure the impacts of stormwater management by making water quality measurements in streams of varying levels of impairment.
  • Examine solutions to these problems, and visit places at the Watershed and in the community that have implemented these solutions.
  • Students will visit, assess, design and calculate the impact of green infrastructure solutions for sites in the community, as part of an ongoing Watershed research grant project from the NJDEP for stormwater pollution control.

Land Stewardship | July 24–28

One interpretation of the concept of being a steward is to manage a resource wisely. Humans have unwittingly managed stormwater runoff with pipes and ditches, lands with clearcutting, chemical treatment and planting of non-native species, and various other practices that have unintentionally upset the balance of our native ecosystem functioning. Students in this class will:

  • Define the problems with some of the historical land management practices and their consequences.
  • Investigate beneficial stewardship activities, including remedial and restorative actions; field trips will visit places in the community where these actions have been implemented.
  • Examine the Watershed Reserve property to identify areas in need of stewardship best management practices.
  • Design and take the beginning steps for implementation of remediation or restoration actions that the students identify as Watershed land in need of stewardship.

Green Architecture & Energy | July 31–August 4 

*new dates

The key to a sustainable future lies in current & future generations learning how to construct and renovate structures in a way that we minimize our impact to the environment. Students will:

  • Work one-on-one with professional green architects (Michael Farewell & Jason Kliwinski).
  • Learn the basic principles, challenges and technologies associated with green architecture and renewable energy.
  • Investigate pre-existing structures on the Watershed Reserve and analyze how they could be made more sustainable.
  • Use physical & computer modeling to design the sustainable renovation of their chosen structure.
  • Present their projects to professional and municipal leaders.

What do students say about us?

“I gained extensive knowledge about green infrastructure.”

“I learned so much about GIS, stormwater management, and a whole perspective on environmental careers.”

“This academy will help me to narrow down what type of career in environmental science I want to pursue.”

“I know I am on the right career path.”

“There is something about the Watershed, I just feel so at home there.”