The Nisqually Stream Stewards (NSS) is an adult environmental education program that was started over 10 years ago as a joint program of the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Natural Resources Department and the Nisqually River Council. It was created as a way to connect community members to volunteer and citizen science opportunities in the watershed, and a recognition that long lasting sustainability is only possible through community support efforts. Over the years, the class has fostered a dedicated community of volunteers who work hard everyday to create positive change in the Nisqually Watershed and beyond.
In 2015, the Nisqually River Foundation took over the on-the-ground implementation of the program, so that it is jointly offered by the Nisqually Tribe and Nisqually River Foundation. We work hard to make sure this is free, family-friendly and open to people of all backgrounds, abilities, and interests. The class is offered once per year, and provides 40+ hours of educational presentations, hands-on activities and service-learning opportunities. In exchange, Nisqually Stream Steward volunteers must complete 40+ hours of volunteer time in the Nisqually Watershed.
During the class, NSS volunteers travel from Mount Rainier National Park, where they learn about glaciers and volcanos, to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, to learn about the delta and migratory birds. Although the way, volunteers meet with professionals from Northwest Trek, UW Pack Forest, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, Nisqually Land Trust and other organizations who work to protect the watershed. Topics range from salmon recovery to Nisqually tribal history to forest protection — in short, we try to touch on a variety of topics so that all volunteers find something that interests them!
After the class is over, volunteers must complete their 40 hours within the next year. All we ask is that the hours benefit the Nisqually Watershed. Beyond that, volunteers are free to choose the organization(s) that best fit their interests, passions or skill set. We are so grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who have spent, and continue to dedicate, so much time to the Nisqually Watershed!
But telling the story of the Nisqually Stream Stewards wouldn’t be complete without sharing the stories and voices of one of our many volunteers! Stay tuned in December for a special guest blog post featuring Nick Gosling, a 2016 NSS graduate and long-time volunteer with the Nisqually Land Trust!