What is the mission of your organization?
We all live in a watershed, although it can be easy to forget in a place like the Bay Area where we’ve paved over our waterways and bay to make way for urban development. The Watershed Project (TWP) seeks to remind us that we live in a fragile, damaged ecosystem and works to inspire Bay Area communities to understand, appreciate, and protect our local watersheds. If we reconnect with our physical environment and recall that humans are part of nature, we will strengthen the web of life that sustains us.
What is the history of The Watershed Project?
At its inception in 1987 as the Education Department of San Francisco Estuary Institute (a nonprofit devoted to research and monitoring of the San Francisco Bay), TWP primarily served to educate Bay Area residents about the environmental and health hazards of urban runoff. Ten years later, the department broke away to form an autonomous nonprofit, The Aquatic Outreach Institute, changing its name in 2004 to The Watershed Project.
Since acquiring 501c3 status, TWP has expanded programming to include community work days for creek and coastal restoration, community education focusing on healthy urban, riparian, and coastal ecosystems, extensive experiential learning programs in Bay Area schools, and coordination and financial/technical assistance for the numerous watershed stewardship organizations in the Bay Area. Additionally, TWP has proudly endured the recent economic downturn through the support of tireless staff and outstanding internship program.
What is the current top priority for The Watershed Project?
The Watershed Project currently supports five major initiatives:
CLEAN SHORELINE INITIATIVE-Litter in our waterways is not inevitable. TWP is working with schools, businesses, community members, and stewardship groups to clean up our watersheds.
LIVING SHORELINE INITIATIVE- Our Oyster Monitoring and Restoration Program offers vital habitat for fragile native oysters through hands-on student monitoring and community volunteer efforts.
GREENING URBAN WATERSHED INITIATIVE- Historically, urban development has had disastrous environmental impacts, but it doesn’t have to. TWP focuses on creek restoration, bioswales, rain gardens and other community-driven low impact design projects to educate local residents and promote sustainable urban practices.
BUILDING A WATERSHED MOVEMENT- TWP coordinates and supports other stewardship groups through partnerships and technical assistance, as well as monetary grants.
ENVIRONMENTAL CAREERS INITIATIVE- In an age of environmental destruction, we must rely on the innovations of the next generation for solutions, TWP’s Green Academy and internship program inspire at-risk youth, college students, and graduates to positively contribute to the environmental sector.
What is one unknown fact about The Watershed Project?
Zealously dedicated staff and volunteers sometimes get locked in regional/state parks during restoration projects. At TWP, we don’t stop when the sun sets!