Penn State Extension's Master Watershed Steward Program was a recipient of a Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence. .
The Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence is the highest statewide honor bestowed upon businesses and organizations for environmental performance and innovation in cleaning up watersheds, saving energy, eliminating pollution, reducing waste and other initiatives.
The Master Watershed Stewards program was acknowledged for its ability to create knowledgeable volunteers that can then donate their time to educating the public about environmental stewardship practices and collaborate with state and local environmental organizations to complete on-the-ground environmental restoration projects.
The program began in 2013 in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Five years later, it has grown to 13 counties and over 350 volunteers. During this time, Master Watershed Stewards have contributed nearly 20,000 volunteer hours and reaching over 200,000 Pennsylvania residents. Master Watershed Stewards have provide education in schools, at community events and organize workshops to teach the public how they can be better stewards of the environment. Topics the Master Watershed Stewards addressed in 2017 include: riparian buffers, meadows, native plants, backyard stormwater management practices such as rain barrels and rain gardens, water quality, drinking water safety, climate change, fish and amphibians and more.
Master Watershed Stewards also assist local environmental organizations with on-the-ground restoration projects. In 2017, the volunteers monitored 15 streams, constructed 5 demonstration rain gardens, planted 915 trees, and built 118 rain barrels. These environmental impacts will magnify as more volunteers are trained each year.
Anyone interested in becoming a Master Watershed Stewards, should visit the Master Watershed Stewards Website