The William Penn Foundation recently awarded a three-year grant to The Nature Conservancy in Delaware to support the Stream Stewards program, a citizen science watershed stewardship initiative.

The grant will build on the initial success of the Stream Stewards program and leverage the partnership with First State National Historical Park and Stroud Water Research Center to scale best practices in volunteer engagement, water quality monitoring and watershed stewardship in the Delaware River Basin.

Originally launched in 2016, Stream Stewards trains volunteers to engage with the scientific process by collecting water quality data that will provide information about how to best manage the streams that flow through First State National Historical Park to Brandywine Creek. Brandywine Creek supplies the drinking water for Wilmington’s residents. Sensor stations were installed at six stream sites, and teams of trained volunteer citizen scientists have been maintaining those stations and collecting additional data through regular field measurements.

Funds from the new William Penn Foundation grant will help to grow the base of Stream Stewards volunteers and provide expanded opportunities for volunteer engagement. The program will recruit and train more citizen scientist volunteers and expand the program's geography to other areas within the Brandywine-Christina watershed.

The grant will also provide for the technical support in water monitoring and restoration efforts provided by The Stroud Center and for the planning and production of educational materials and activities in the park and local community.

To expand Stream Stewards' impact beyond FRST, the program aims to cultivate program participants to serve as leaders, help train and mentor new volunteers and to serve as liaisons for other monitoring efforts in the Brandywine-Christina watershed and beyond. Volunteers will be provided new opportunities to contribute to restoration projects, work with youth and conduct public outreach.

The grant also funds the establishment of a demonstration site in FRST to show best practices in sustainable agriculture and watershed stewardship through exhibits and interpretive signage. Staff are exploring the idea of purchasing a mobile conservation trailer that could be used as an outdoor classroom at various sites and events.

Community members of all ages are invited to participate in the Stream Stewards Spring Watershed Cleanup event from 10 a.m. to noon April 21 at First State National Historical Park, 211 Delaware St., New Castle. Volunteers will gather trash and debris from Rocky Run, a tributary of the Brandywine, and the surrounding trails.

For more, visit nature.org/destreamstewards.