Watershed Science & Stewardship Academy

Registration Is Open Now!

The Watershed Science and Stewardship Academy classes are week-long environmental investigations for high school students designed to invoke a sense of wonder and inquiry of the natural environment in the context of real-world issues.


This year’s four exciting offerings are on climate change, green architecture, field science and clean water, using Next Generation Science Standards. Students will explore environmental careers alongside professors and professionals through hands-on activities engaged in real scientific techniques and conservation projects.

The Academies also offer opportunities for students to connect with the Watershed staff and their partners for related independent studies, internships, and service learning credits. Register for one week or all four! Discounts are available for Watershed Members and multi-week registrations! Scholarships are available in each class for qualified individuals. Classes typically run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day depending on trips.

If you would like to apply for a scholarship for an Academy week, please inquire prior to registration with Steve Tuorto, Director of Science and Stewardship, at stuorto@thewatershed.org, or at 609-737-3735, ext. 35.

Academy Class Details

Climate Change | July 9–13

Discover what drives climate change and the impact of human activities on those drivers in sessions with climate scientists such as Climate Central’s Chief Meteorologist, Bernadette Woods Placky.  Students of this class will:

  • Learn about the natural global cycles and processes that control earths climate and how it changes over time.
  • Perform experiments and use the data to investigate how human activities interact with those same global cycles to impact climate
  • Explore what scientific studies are being done with climate science professionals to understand climate change and what humans need to do to lesson the impact of their activities.

Environmental Field Science | July 16–20

Are you curious about the actions that scientists and environmental groups are taking to study and develop conservation efforts? Enjoy daily outings with the Watershed staff to visit local river and the Jersey shore sites.  Learn about the different studies, techniques, and conservation work in ecological field science by participating in them with academic and other professional groups!  Field trip and activities include:

  • Learning the instrumentation and methods for biological and chemical water profiling aboard the Rutgers University research vessel, R/V Rutgers, along the Raritan River and Bay .
  • Fish population survey and identification along the Rariatan or Millstone Rivers with Rutgers fisheries biologists. Help haul a 300 foot seining net then do a fish species biodiversity survey of what is caught.
  • Bird and dune conservation work with the Gateway National Recreation Park Service at Sandy Hook. Depending on the timing and weather, students will participate in one or more activities such as Piping Plover nest/hatched chick survey and/or banding, dune vegetation or bird shelter restoration, or Osprey banding.
  • Perform trawls by wading in the ocean to sample and survey for micro-plastics off of the beaches in Keyport, New Jersey, with the NY/NJ Baykeepers.
  • Learn to survey forest health and  help transplant trees, shrubs and other vegetation in one of the forest restoration projects on the Watershed Reserve.

Green Architecture & Energy | July 23–27

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 structure for an “Environmental Client”
  • Present projects to professionals and municipal leaders.

Clean Water Academy | July 30–August 3

Join the Watershed’s Science Director, Steven Tuorto, PhD., to learn how rainwater mixes with nutrients, pesticides, fertilizers, and many other chemicals we use to create “people pollution”.  Also known as “non-point source pollution”, the mixing of these chemical into stormwater runoff is the most serious threat to the future of clean drinking water and healthy river & stream ecosystems.  Learn how the Watershed’s Science and Advocacy departments are working on projects that are paving the way for better laws and actions for managing rainwater to keep our watersheds healthy.

  • Investigate the sources and mechanisms for non-point source pollution.
  • Visit various stream locations and measure the pollution levels to investigate the impacts of urbanization and stormwater management on water quality.
  • Examine how managing rainwater in natural ways can help reduce pollution and flooding; visit places at the Watershed and in the community that have implemented these solutions.
  • Students will visit, assess, and design solutions to stormwater pollution using “green infrastructure” in the community as part of an ongoing Watershed research project funded by the NJDEP for stormwater pollution control.

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.”