The 2017 Nisqually Stream Stewards celebrated graduation on September 30 at the Nisqually Watershed Festival. Over eight weeks in August and September, our 20 Stream Stewards have taken part in classes, field trips, and hands-on trainings with organizations from around the Nisqually community. The Stream Stewards program combines environmental education with community engagement and volunteer training for a unique opportunity to learn about and give back to the watershed.
The Nisqually River Foundation and Education Project partnered with 14 different government and community organizations to deliver the 2017 Stream Stewards program. One class member described it as “like getting a backstage pass,” as Stewards heard from members of the Nisqually Tribe, county, city, and tribal officials, and conservation and education groups about everything from salmon recovery to sustainable community development, prairie restoration, ecological history, and how individual actions contribute to water quality. They also got to learn and apply practical citizen science skills, including streamwater testing, NatureMapping, plant identification, and beach seining. The hands-on activities, combined with site visits to Mount Rainier National Park, the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually Natural Wildlife Refuge, the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s community garden and Clear Creek Hatchery, the Nisqually Reach, and UW’s Pack Forest, gave Stream Stewards a broad perspective on the interdependent communities and landscapes surrounding the river system. As another Stream Steward reflected at the end of the course, “Now, when I look at the mountain, I see a bigger picture.”
Now that they’ve completed their 40 hours of training and received their official NSS Salmon Crowns, the Stream Stewards are heading out to give back with at least 40 hours of volunteering in the watershed over the next year. Already, this year’s graduates have pitched in at the Nisqually Watershed Festival, joined the Nisqually Tribe’s Salmon Watchers program, cleared blackberries with the Nisqually Land Trust, and helped students collect and test river water samples on Water Quality Monitoring Day. Because so many of the organizations supporting the watershed rely on the time, energy, and creativity of volunteers, Stream Stewards are a key resource for the Nisqually community! Check out the 2017 Stream Stewards album on Facebook for more photos of this year’s class, and stay tuned throughout the year for updates on their volunteer projects. Congratulations, Stream Stewards, and keep up the great work!
The Nisqually Stream Stewards Program takes place every year in August and September. Registration is open to anyone connected to Nisqually watershed communities, and we have room for up to 25 people each year. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Information about upcoming Stream Stewards volunteer events (which are open to the public, not just Stream Stewards graduates) can be found here: http://nisquallyriver.org/stream-stewards/nisqually-stream-stewards-volunteer-opportunities/