Search for Excellence in Environmental Quality, Forestry and Natural Resources

Jacqueline Takacs
Watershed Restoration Specialist
University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program

Basenback, N*1, , Brooks, K*2, , Buehl, E*3, , Dindinger, J*4, , Rockler, A*5, , Takacs, J.*6,
1 Watershed Restoration Eductor, University of Maryland Extension, Prince Frederick, MD, 20678
2 Watershed Restoration Specialist, University of Maryland Extension, Cockeysville, MD, 21030
3 Watershed Restoration Specialist, University of Maryland Extension, Queenstown, MD, 21658
4 Watershed Restoration Specialist, University of Maryland Extension, Cambridge, MD, 21613
5 Watershed Restoration Specialist, University of Maryland Extension, Derwood, MD, 20855
6 Watershed Restoration Specialist, University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20774

The University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) is a stormwater management education and implementation program currently operating in five Maryland counties. The WSA provides training to adult community leaders (Stewards) in using watershed assessment tools for analyzing stormwater runoff and hands-on experience leading stormwater management and behavior change projects.

Stewards-in-training enroll in a year-long program that includes 40+ hours of classroom and field training and project implementation experience. They complete a Capstone project that includes a site assessment, community engagement, implementation activities, and a maintenance plan. 

Stewards move through a peer-reviewed curriculum that includes modules on Watershed Sciences, Water Systems, Legislation and Regulations, Small-scale Stormwater Practices, Native Plants, Soil, GIS, Site Assessments, Social Marketing, Community Engagement, and Project Management and Funding.  Teaching activities, methods, and materials vary based on the topics. They include classes/workshops, stormwater tours, demonstration projects, blogs and social media, videos, website content, direct consultations, and public events. 

To document Stewards' learning, IRB-approved evaluations are conducted at the beginning and end of each program. These pre/post evaluations measure attendees' changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, and aspirations as a result of the course. Post-session surveys are also collected from each individual class during the course. This feedback helps the instructor decide what modifications to make in future classes. 

Support for WSA includes faculty and staff time support from six Extension agents, over $40,000 in annual County support and grants, and $6,500 generated annually by WSA program activities.  A consortium of experienced stormwater management practitioners provides Stewards with ongoing support for their projects. Stewards become local leaders in reducing the harmful effects of polluted stormwater running off into streams. 

Highlights of WSA's accomplishments to date include: 

  • 416 Stewards certified. 
  • 42,334 community members engaged
  • 147 stormwater assessments completed
  • Over $528,000 in value of volunteer time to Maryland.
  • Over $240,000 leveraged for small-scale stormwater projects.
  • Over 115,870 sq. ft. of small-scale stormwater practices installed. 
  • Over 100,000 sq. ft. of impervious surface treated. 
  • Over 52,290 trees, plants, and shrubs installed.