Watershed Academy For High School Students

2024 Academy Session Dates

July 8 -12 Green Architecture

July 15 -19 Clean Water

July 22 - 26 Local Ecological Knowledge for a Sustainable Future

July 29 - Aug 2 Climate and Water with Princeton University’s HMEI --  FULL

Join Us this Summer for the Watershed Academy for High School Students 

The Watershed Institute has been protecting the vital water resources of central New Jersey’s watersheds for 75 years. A key part of our mission has always been connecting people to their water sources and the environment. 

The Watershed Academy for High School Students offers immersive environmental investigations on the 950-acre Watershed Reserve. Each five-day session engages students in a world of science where they ask questions and identify problems, gain skills and knowledge, explore root causes of environmental injustice, propose solutions, learn about career opportunities and how to advocate for change. Students will get hands-on experience as they participate in ongoing scientific studies at the Watershed, meet experts, and learn how to help influence environmental policy in their own communities.  

These experiences engage students in science and stewardship practices to elevate them into awareness, investigation, action, and leadership as they prepare to enter adult roles in their communities.  

Each week, students will present their findings in a final project. In the past these have included poster sessions, short films, PowerPoint presentations, outdoor interpretive pieces, and more. 

2024 Sessions

 Green Architecture $500  

July 8 – 12 

The key to building a sustainable future lies in constructing and renovating in a way that minimizes our negative impact on the environment. Work one-on-one with award-winning architects Michael Farewell and Jason Kliwinski to design your own environmentally friendly structures.  

  • Learn the basic principles, challenges and technologies associated with green architecture and building with renewable energy and sustainably harvested materials. 
  • Analyze existing structures on the Watershed Reserve to determine how they could be made more sustainable. 
  • Learn and use relevant architectural software and physical modeling to design a sustainable structure for a hypothetical client, and then present your project to professionals and municipal leaders. 
  • Visit a sustainably built office and workshop and a walking tour of historic Lambertville to view architectural styles and learn how towns can be developed near waterways while integrating nature.

Clean Water $500 

July 15-19 

Pollution from stormwater runoff is a serious threat to clean drinking water, healthy rivers, and aquatic ecosystems. Learn from the Watershed Institute’s Science & Stewardship Director Steve Tuorto PhD, how we are restoring the health of our watershed. Meet an engineer from One Water Consulting to learn about the work they are doing in watershed restoration and more. 

  • Conduct stream assessments to measure the impacts of urbanization and stormwater management on water quality. 
  • Explore how we work with other scientists to reduce pollution and flooding through nature-inspired rainwater management. 
  • Assess stormwater management in Hopewell Borough and design rainwater solutions as part of an ongoing Watershed Institute research and restoration project funded by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. 

Local Ecological Knowledge for a Sustainable Future $500 

July 22 – 26 

Scientists and Conservationists are applying traditional and indigenous knowledge to help solve modern world problems. Hear from a variety of guests who are stewarding the land with native species and ancient practices. Students will create their own video showcasing one or more of these techniques. 

  • Meet award winning filmaker Sarah Galloway, who documented the conversion of her suburban NJ yard to a “life sustaining place of wonder” in her film: Wild in The Garden State. 
  • Visit with indigenous Lenape Elder, Shelly DePaul, and find out how their language and culture are connected to the land. 
  • Meet researchers in evolutionary biology and forest ecology who are working to preserve ecosystems and inspire hope for the future. 

Water and Climate with Princeton’s High Meadows Environmental Institute $500 

July 29 – August 2 — FULL

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. Water plays a vital role as both an indicator of climate change and a significant medium through which its effects are felt. Join researchers from Princeton University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, High Meadows Environmental Institute, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (an HBCU institution), to explore ongoing work to better understand and address the interconnected challenges of climate change and water management for a sustainable future. 

  • Meet experts in the field and learn first-hand about their cutting-edge research. 
  • Visit laboratories at Princeton University where scientists are conducting climate and water research. 
  • Meet with researchers from an HBCU institution and learn about their experiences. 

Register for one week or all weeks! Discounts are available for Watershed members. Classes typically run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.


Registration process:

      1. Click here to register or check availability in CampDoc.
      2. Create a new profile or login to an existing one in CampDoc. 
      3. A 50% deposit is due upon registration, full payment is due by April 10, 2024. 
      4. No refunds will be given after April 10, 2024. 
      5. All cancellations will be charged a $35 processing fee. 
      6. *Campers are limited to register for a maximum of four weeks. 

Financial Aid 

The Watershed Institute is pleased to offer a limited number of full scholarships for our 2024 Summer Science Academies for High School Students. Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and expressed desire of the student to be part of an academic summer program. The Watershed Institute does not discriminate against applicants based on race, color, national origin, age disability, sex, gender identity, or religion. 

Complete the form separately for each child you wish to apply. Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all scholarship funds are dispersed. Families who receive scholarships will be accepted and notified on a rolling basis. We give priority to students requesting to attend all four weeks of Watershed Academy. 

  • If you would like to apply for financial aid, please complete the Watershed Academy Financial Aid application or email [email protected] to have it mailed to you. Students who want to attend all 4 weeks of academy are given priority.
  • We will have bus transportation available from several stops in Trenton.

If you have any questions about the Watershed Academy for High School Students programs, please contact Assistant Director of Education Pat Heaney at [email protected] at (609) 737-3735 ext. 11

For registration help or questions, please contact Education Manager Anna Hill at [email protected] or at (609) 737-3735 ext. 42


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of the Academy? 

Academy hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday 

What about the weather? Thunderstorms? 

Our goal is to remain outdoors, or under a tent whenever possible. During thunderstorms or other unsafe weather, we will take shelter indoors in our library. 

What is the dress code? 
  • Dress for active outdoor activities—shorts, t-shirt, and closed-toe, hard-sole shoes. 
  • Do not wear open-toe or soft-sole shoes (flip flops, crocs, and open-toed sandals) We have a limited number for boots to share for those who do not have their own. 
  • Students will receive an Academy tee shirt on their first day. Students are required to wear the Academy tee shirt on field trips. 
 Do you serve meals? 
  • Students may pre-order boxed lunches. These include a sandwich or wrap, chips, soda, and fruit. The meal order form will be available in spring. 
  • Students not ordering lunch must bring lunch daily. Bring a refillable water bottle. There is no place on site to purchase food or snacks. 
  • Please inform us of all food allergies when you complete the health profile. We do not exclude foods from the academy. Students are instructed to clean their hands after eating to avoid contamination. 
What do students need to bring? 
  • Lunch, snacks and a refillable water bottle. 
  • Students should bring their own laptop if possible. We have a limited number of laptops available for sharing. 
Are parents invited to the presentations?

Yes! We encourage families to attend the final presentations, which generally take place on Friday afternoons at 2:00. Following the presentations, students receive certificates of completion for their work.

More Questions? 

Contact Pat Heaney [email protected] or call (609) 737 3735 ext 11 

What Do Students Say About Us?

“This (Stream Science Academy) taught me how to effectively analyze and present my data through a scientific poster. I also learned how to take and understand data about stream health.”

“The Academy experiences will benefit my future because know I have evidence of how the environment habitats are [influenced] by us humans.”

“We discussed important things that affect our day-to-day life and we can help make a change with this information.”

“Not only will my experience at the academy add to my resume, but it’ll show that I have an understanding of nature if I ever want to apply to more environmental programs.”

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