Watershed Science & Stewardship Academy

2019 Registration Opens Soon!

The Watershed Science & 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.


In previous years, we offered courses on climate change, green architecture, field science, forest stewardship, and clean water. Students explored environmental careers alongside professors and professionals through hands-on activities while they engaged in scientific techniques and actual conservation projects.

2018 Offerings

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 Steve Tuorto, Director of Science and Stewardship, at stuorto@thewatershed.org, or at 609-737-3735, ext. 35.

2018 Academy Class Details

Climate Change |

Discover what drives climate change and the impact of human activities during discussions 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 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.

Environmental Field Science | 

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 rivers and the Jersey shore.  Learn about the different studies, techniques, and conservation work in ecological field science by participating with academic and other professional groups.  Field trips and activities include:

  • Learn 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.
  • Identify and survey fish populations 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.
  • Explore 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.
  • Sample and survey with ocean trawls to capture micro-plastics on beaches in Keyport, N.J., and alongside 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 | 

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.

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.