Watershed Steward Academy St. Mary;s
Updated: February 20, 2024

Are you looking to improve local water quality?

The Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) is a great opportunity to learn how to solve stormwater problems in your community and join a local network of energized leaders!

Started in 2016, University of Maryland Extension in partnership with St. Mary's County government offers stewards hands-on and classroom training in a diverse range of topics including: watershed processes, stormwater best management practice installation and maintenance, native plants, project funding and permitting, community engagement, and much more!

This is an adult, evening education program. Stewards will gain hands-on and classroom training in a diverse range of topics including: watershed processes, stormwater best management practice installation and maintenance, native plants, project funding and permitting, community engagement, and much more!

Teachers can receive 5 MSDE credits for completing the program.

For more information, contact Caroline DiGiovanni at 301-475-4484, and click below to learn about upcoming opportunities!

How to Become a Steward

Course Information and Policies

WSA Course Goals

Upon satisfactory completion of the certification course the candidate will have learned about:

  • Stormwater management principles and practices.
  • Best management practices (BMPs) for controlling stormwater in a residential setting.
  • Native plants and their role in protecting the environment.
  • The stormwater professionals from the region.
  • Designing and installing stormwater management practices through hands-on techniques.
  • How to explain stormwater issues to interested citizens.
  • Presenting the concept of stormwater management to neighbors and small groups.
  • Local Geographic Information System (GIS) and the UMD Sea Grant Extension SMART Tool.
  • Identifying and obtaining funding sources to pay for projects.

The Candidate will graduate with:

  • A toolkit with supplies and materials to assist with restoration and outreach activities.
  • A certificate stating the candidate has graduated to a Master Watershed Steward.

Requirements for Initial Certification:

  • Complete the WSA coursework, consistent with the attendance policy, below.
  • Complete the class and team capstone projects to the satisfaction of WSA Coordinators.

Background Check Requirement:

  • All volunteers of UME are required to go through a background check process
  • The background check serves to ensure the WSA and its programs are a safe environment
  • The background check is good for 3 years and must be kept current for participation in the program
  • Volunteers are responsible for the fee, fee as of February 2024 is $15.00

Requirements for Maintenance of Certification:

  • In the first year, provide 15 hours of community service for watershed actions similar to those provided during completing of the class and team capstone projects, which could include maintenance of installed projects.
  • For the first year, complete 5 hours of continuing education activities.
  • For ensuing years, complete 20 hours of combined education and service each year.

Attendance Policy:

  • The Academy expects attendance at all the training classes and field trips. We maintain the following policy for missed classes:
    • Candidates who miss up to two classes due to pre-scheduled conflicts (as reported to the WSA Coordinators, at the time of application) or illness/injury/emergency may make up class material as determined by the WSA Coordinators (e.g., by partnering with a Candidate who attended a session, by reading background material or by attending a make-up activity).
    • It is the responsibility of the Candidate to make up missed classes by contacting another Candidate or the Coordinator to obtain materials and review coursework. Although we will make reasonable efforts to assist the Candidate in the make-up of a missed class, this may not always be possible. If a person misses more than two classes, the candidate is unlikely to receive certification at the end of the course. Exceptions to this policy will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Course Materials Website:

  • All course materials (list of Support Professionals, class contact list, resources, agendas, presentations, etc.) will be stored online. The link will be provided once class begins.

Homework Policy:

  • A candidate can expect to have reading, written, and/or oral assignments. Each session we will provide some simple homework to help you use and explore the tools given in class or prepare for the upcoming class. If you are having trouble with any topic or skill, please contact the Coordinator. Some homework assignments will be collected for the purpose of checking your understanding of the subject area. Homework will not be graded, but will serve as a barometer for how well we have met our learning objectives and where additional help is needed.

Class Project:

  • The class, as a group, will design, plan and install a stormwater management project.
  • Active participation in the class project is required.

Individual/Team Capstone Projects:

  • Working individually or in small groups, you and your classmates will complete a capstone project, incorporating 1) assessment of stormwater problems of the chosen watershed or neighborhood and 2) community engagement to mitigate the problems. Team capstone projects must be completed by the announced deadline.
  • Active participation in the capstone project is required.

Inclement Weather Policy:

  • If the local public school system is closed due to inclement weather, WSA classes will NOT be held. Participants will be notified by email regarding cancellations and rescheduled classes.
  • The field classes that have outdoor components will be held rain or shine, within reason. Participants should arrive for these classes prepared to be comfortable in the outdoors (bringing proper footwear, hat, sunscreen, rain gear, water bottles, warm clothes if needed, etc.).