Wanted: West Phila. Students for Watershed Stewardship Training

In a recent talk hosted by the TTF Watershed Partnership, acclaimed author Richard Louv urged Philadelphia parents to make sure their kids are getting enough “Vitamin N”—as in nature.

Making a connection to the wildlife and habitats around us is a life skill that can help our youth fend off stress and “nature deficit disorder,” says Louv.

Thanks to the new Philadelphia Watershed Stewardship program, West Philadelphia youth can get a healthy dose of nature along with valuable life and career skills. There’s even a stipend to sweeten the pot.

Last year, we partnered with the LandHealth Institute—a nonprofit providing environmental education to local teens—to create one of the first youth stewardship programs in the City committed to protecting our watersheds. That first season saw great things happen for the students and for our waterways, so we’re excited to bring in a new team of enthusiastic, passionate stewards to help us do it again this year.

The deadline to apply is Friday, April 6th. Access the application online here.

Those interested in applying should contact Dan Kobza from the LandHealth Institute at for more information. Kobza will get a hand in running the program from Dan Schupsky, PWD’s community contact for West Philadelphia Green City, Clean Waters projects.


How Stewards Serve

Beginning in late spring, 15 high school students age 15-18 from the West Philadelphia area will work alongside PWD, the LandHealth Institute and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) for 11 weeks.

Students will start out learning how to protect the Darby-Cobbs watershed, which flows through many West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods, with lessons covering topics like ecology, watershed management and stormwater runoff. After the training sessions, students will spend the summer applying the new skills in their communities.

The stewards will train with LandHealth and the Parks and Recreation staff at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center— the perfect home base for the Watershed Stewards.

As a potent connector that's linked West Philadelphia residents to the natural world for decades, the center provides a familiar local meeting place where Stewards can host community events, a classroom, and place where students can do real work to improve an urban watershed.

Students can earn up to $850 over the course of the program. Those who complete all training sessions will earn $275. An additional $575 can be earned by participating in various events. Being a Watershed Steward will even give students a leg up when applying for jobs and programs like Philadelphia Youth Network and Power Corps PHL.

First Year Highlights

Here’s a sample of some Watershed Stewards activities from the first year:



In addition to the skills and knowledge they pick up, the program empowers students by connecting them to environmental and civic leaders, mentors, and new friends while immersing them in a side of the city they may not have experienced before.

Don’t just take our word for it—check out the blog posts penned by last year’s stewards!

Who Is a Watershed Steward?

The ideal Watershed Steward is eager to learn and passionate about protecting the environment, our local waterways, and their community—no prior experience is needed.

To apply, students must submit one letter of recommendation along with their application.

Please apply today and share with like-minded friends! If you have any questions, contact Dan Schupsky at or 215-683-3405.

EXTRA: Read about how we work with the Cobbs Creek Environmental Education Center in this Philadelphia Neighborhoods article -

Philly Science Fest Highlights Overlooked STEM-Water Relationship

What Science Looks Like: Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival.
What Science Looks Like:
Philadelphia Water Department Aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo sampling the health of aquatic wildlife on the Schuylkill River. Careers in science at PWD will be highlighted at this year’s Philadelphia Science Festival

When you turn on the tap for a fresh glass of Philadelphia water, do you think about all the scientists and engineers who make this daily convenience possible?

If your answer is "no," you're not alone.

But the fact is, science and engineering are a big part of the work we do at the Philadelphia Water Department every day.

From the biologists who monitor our source water (see photo above) to the laboratory technicians at the Bureau of Laboratory Services who sample and test the finished product to ensure safety, we rely on a variety of scientific experts to bring you top-quality water around the clock every day of the year.

We also have environmental scientists studying how climate change will impact our rivers and infrastructure, engineers working to transform waste water into energy, hydrologists fine-tuning green stormwater systems, and more.

That’s why we’re excited to once again be a part of the Philadelphia Science Festival—we want to highlight the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that makes access to clean, abundant water possible and attract young people considering STEM careers to this critical field.

A “nine-day, community-wide celebration of science,” the Philadelphia Science Festival features “lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for all ages.”

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