Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA)
When pollutants like excess nutrients, sediment, and chemical contaminants enter local waterways, they threaten the health of plants and animals that live in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, and the humans that rely upon them. An estimated 80% of the Bay’s tidal waters are impaired by toxic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, metals and sewage. Collectively, the actions of the millions of people living in the Bay watershed have the power to either destroy this natural treasure, or restore, sustain and nurture it.
Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) is a training program to empower residents to improve the quality of their local waterways. By sharing resources, forming partnerships, and coordinating efforts, WSA works with a consortium of support professionals, Master Watershed Stewards, and their communities to reduce pollutants, infiltrate stormwater, and restore natural systems. WSA trains volunteer leaders to help educate and engage local communities in pollution-reducing actions. Activities range from behavior change programs (pet waste, lawn chemicals, outdoor irrigation, etc.) to connecting communities with environmental resources and people who can help restore watersheds.
By its 10th year, WSA had experienced significant growth evidenced by an enhanced local and regional leadership role, a rapidly expanding “army” of Master Watershed Stewards, volunteers and engaged residents, and a new 5-year contract with Anne Arundel County. Together, WSA’s organizational growth, programmatic impact, and supportive local political environment created an ideal opportunity to engage in the development of a new, bold strategic plan.
As part of its co-creative process, the Due East team and Suzanne Etgen, Executive Director of Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy, mapped out a strategic planning process that engaged staff, board and key constituents to develop a plan to move from ideas to action. The plan focused on increased organizational development – capacity and infrastructure – and signficantly expanding the reach of WSA, especially to communities that had not traditionally participated in environmental restoration efforts.
WSA’s Executive Director Suzanne Etgen shared with us, “When it was time to implement the plan, so many of our constituents raised their hands to get involved. Now we’re getting ready to create a plan to guide our diversity work. Having our constituents engaged already has shown them that we are serious about change and ready for our DEIJ work.”
- Active participation of 196 key constituents including Board, Staff, Watershed Stewards, partners, donors, consortium members and house of worship members
- A new Strategic Plan that focused WSA’s efforts with a new vision and mission, four priorities to guide their next five years, and three long-term results
- A set of actionable strategies and measurable progress indicators that WSA will use to track and share their success
“When it was time to implement the plan, so many of our constituents raised their hands to get involved. Now we’re getting ready to create a plan to guide our diversity work. Having our constituents engaged already has shown them that we are serious about change and ready for our DEIJ work.”
Executive Director, Watershed Stewards Academy