Watershed Academy for High School Students

2019 Registration is Open!

The Watershed Academy for High School Students are week-long environmental investigations that use real-world issues. Each session is designed to invoke a sense of wonder and inquiry into the environment.

Students explore environmental careers alongside professors and professionals through hands-on activities while they engage in scientific techniques and actual conservation projects.

Students in the academies have an opportunity to connect with the Watershed and its partners for relevant independent studies, internships, and service learning credits.

Register for one week or all weeks! Discounts are available for Watershed members and for multi-week registrations. Scholarships are available for qualified individuals for each class. Classes typically run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day (depending on the duration of trips).

What do students say about us?

“Each week provided an extensive amount of knowledge on what issues the world faces and the solutions we can implement on a local and then global scale. My favorite parts of the Academies were the times when I was exposed to new information I had never heard of before and the use of new technology and techniques of experimentation in the field.”

Alexander Warden, Montgomery High School student

Climate Change, Field Science and Clean Water participant, 2018.


“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.”

If you would like to apply for a scholarship for an Academy week, please inquire prior to registration with Tammy Love, Education Manager, at  tlove@thewatershed.org, or at 609-737-3735, ext. 42.

2019 Academy Class Details

Environmental Art | July 1-3, 2019


The world of nature has long inspired artists of all media. Join local artist Susan Hoenig for an ecological perspective in creating art.

Participants will explore waterways on the Watershed Reserve, meeting a variety of inhabitants of these critical ecosystems and install environmental art trailside on the Reserve.

  • Explore aquatic ecosystems meeting a variety of organisms
  • Learn how human activity impacts native organisms and biodiversity
  • Capture the aquatic ecosystem through art techniques
  • Using natural materials, collaborate with others to create an environmental art installation

Candid Wildlife | July 1-3, 2019


Trail cameras are valuable research, conservation and education tools, offering unique glimpses into the lives of our animal neighbors.

After learning to identify the signs of native wildlife and gaining an understanding of their life histories, participants will employ a variety of techniques and strategies to discover wildlife activity along our waterways.

  • Gain identification skills of tracks, scats and other signs of native wildlife
  • Learn techniques and strategies for deploying trail cameras to observe wildlife
  • Visit existing trail cameras to discover wildlife activity
  • Set up trail cameras to detect and observe wildlife along our waterways

Stream Science | July 8-12, 2019


Work alongside the Watershed Institute scientists, including Science Director, Steve Tuorto, Ph.D., and statewide water quality expert, Erin Stretz, to start a new field study in Beden Brook as part of our restoration projects in Hopewell Borough.

  • Investigate the ways land-use, human development, and wildlife affect stream health.
  • Assess your own stream site and identify possible threats to the habitat and water quality.
  • Analyze biological, chemical, and bacterial samples from your site using the Watershed’s analytical laboratory.
  • Develop solutions to identified water quality problems and strategies to measure the impact of your suggested solutions, and present your study and results.

Climate Change | July 15-19, 2019


Discover what drives climate change and the impact of human activities with the help of Emmy Award-winning meteorologist, Bernadette Woods Placky, and state climatologist David Robinson.  Students of this class will:

  • Learn about the natural global cycles and processes that control the earth’s climate and how it changes over time.
  • Perform experiments and use the data to investigate how human activities interact with 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 lessen the impact of their activities.
  • Take field trips to visit academic labs and facilities that study climate change and are implementing renewable energy and energy-efficient solutions.

Environmental Field Science | July 22-26, 2019 

Are you curious about the actions that scientists and environmental groups are taking to study and develop conservation efforts? Explore New Jersey through daily, investigative trips.  Learn about the different studies, techniques, and conservation work in ecological field science by participating with academic and other professional groups.  Enjoy daily outings with the Watershed staff to gain hands-on experiences at our local rivers and coastal areas. Field trips (new 2019 locations) and activities include:

  • Fish population surveys on the Raritan River with Rutgers fisheries biologists.
  • Explore the ongoing work by academic and non-profit organizations to monitor and restore coastal habitats that are vital to plants and animals, and provide necessary stabilization of  our shorelines against flooding and erosion.
  • Learn about the valuable service that freshwater mussels give the environment and how groups work to restore these vulnerable organisms.
  • Learn to survey forest health and help remove invasive species, transplant trees, shrubs and other vegetation in one of the forest restoration projects on the Watershed Reserve.

Clean Water | July 29–August 2, 2019

Join the Watershed’s Science Director, Steven Tuorto, PhD., and his science staff 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 chemicals 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.

Green Architecture | August 5-9, 2019

The key to a sustainable future lies in current and future generations learning how to construct and renovate structures in a way that we minimize our impact on 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.