In a recent talk hosted by the TTF Watershed Partnership, acclaimed author Richard Louv urged Philadelphia parents to make sure their kids are getting enough “Vitamin N”—as in nature.
Making a connection to the wildlife and habitats around us is a life skill that can help our youth fend off stress and “nature deficit disorder,” says Louv.
Thanks to the new Philadelphia Watershed Stewardship program, West Philadelphia youth can get a healthy dose of nature along with valuable life and career skills. There’s even a stipend to sweeten the pot.
Last year, we partnered with the LandHealth Institute—a nonprofit providing environmental education to local teens—to create one of the first youth stewardship programs in the City committed to protecting our watersheds. That first season saw great things happen for the students and for our waterways, so we’re excited to bring in a new team of enthusiastic, passionate stewards to help us do it again this year.
The deadline to apply is Friday, April 6th. Access the application online here.
Those interested in applying should contact Dan Kobza from the LandHealth Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Kobza will get a hand in running the program from Dan Schupsky, PWD’s community contact for West Philadelphia Green City, Clean Waters projects.
How Stewards Serve
Beginning in late spring, 15 high school students age 15-18 from the West Philadelphia area will work alongside PWD, the LandHealth Institute and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) for 11 weeks.
Students will start out learning how to protect the Darby-Cobbs watershed, which flows through many West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods, with lessons covering topics like ecology, watershed management and stormwater runoff. After the training sessions, students will spend the summer applying the new skills in their communities.
The stewards will train with LandHealth and the Parks and Recreation staff at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center— the perfect home base for the Watershed Stewards.
As a potent connector that's linked West Philadelphia residents to the natural world for decades, the center provides a familiar local meeting place where Stewards can host community events, a classroom, and place where students can do real work to improve an urban watershed.
Students can earn up to $850 over the course of the program. Those who complete all training sessions will earn $275. An additional $575 can be earned by participating in various events. Being a Watershed Steward will even give students a leg up when applying for jobs and programs like Philadelphia Youth Network and Power Corps PHL.
First Year Highlights
Here's a sample of some Watershed Stewards activities from the first year:
- Students went on a cycling tour with Neighborhood Bike Works and explored green stormwater infrastructure at West Philadelphia sites like the Philadelphia Zoo and Mill Creek Farm.
- Kayaking through the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge—an important tidal wetland filled with waterfowl, fish, and even bald eagles—gave them first-hand experience with the Darby-Cobbs watershed and where it ends up after flowing through their neighborhoods.
- Acting as ambassadors for the watershed at community events like a Cobbs Creek GSI Open House and the Coast Day celebration at Penn’s Landing, the students communicated concepts learned in their classes.
- Putting scientific skills to use, they took PWD’s underwater rover for a spin in a tributary of Cobbs Creek.
- During a Cobbs Creek Recreation Center cleanup, the Stewards led volunteers in collecting over 600 pounds of litter.
In addition to the skills and knowledge they pick up, the program empowers students by connecting them to environmental and civic leaders, mentors, and new friends while immersing them in a side of the city they may not have experienced before.
Don’t just take our word for it—check out the blog posts penned by last year’s stewards!
Philadelphia folks, please help us get the word out about our upcoming clean up. Thankshttps://t.co/a7zka4dYUt— WatershedStewardsPHL (@WaterStewardPHL) October 13, 2017
Who Is a Watershed Steward?
The ideal Watershed Steward is eager to learn and passionate about protecting the environment, our local waterways, and their community—no prior experience is needed.
To apply, students must submit one letter of recommendation along with their application.
Please apply today and share with like-minded friends! If you have any questions, contact Dan Schupsky at Daniel.Schupsky@phila.gov or 215-683-3405.
EXTRA: Read about how we work with the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center in this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article -