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Stewardship Projects

The culminating event for many programs is a Stewardship Project or an action-oriented event that is designed and implemented by students on the refuge or in the community. For example, students in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, who were learning about the Crescent Lake NWR, surveyed locals and determined that there was a lack of community awareness about the refuge. They responded by creating books about their wetland experience and distributed them to local businesses.

From Content Focus to Stewardship Projects
Identify one topic to focus on throughout the program and ask these questions:
  • Why are we interested in this specific topic?
  • What is the issue?
  • What steps can we take toward changing the current issue?
  • What is the timeframe?
  • What do we need to make this happen? Materials?
  • Who do we need to speak with before this can move forward? Who are the people who have a vested interest?
  • Brainstorm Potential Stewardship Projects:
    A Stewardship Project is an innovative technique to pull together any The Nature of Learning program and share student learning with the community. Similar to Service Learning, stewardship projects have the ability to create a long lasting experience for students and teachers that complements classroom learning.

    Getting Started:
    Review the following tips before conducting a brainstorming session with students, teachers and partners involved in The Nature of Learning.
    • Use the newspaper to explore current issues facing your community
    • Survey projects that are being planned or already being implemented in the community or on the refuge
    • Interview decision makers at the refuge (Refuge Manager) or at the community government level
    • Use the Keystone Decision-Making Framework as a resource for developing a research-based Environmental Issue Program (available upon request)

    Use available resources to begin researching Stewardship Projects: Once The Nature of Learning team has focused on potential stewardship projects, it’s helpful to research national programs and initiatives from other environmental organizations. There are many organizations, both local and national, that provide expertise in implementing local stewardship projects.

    Types of Stewardship Projects to Think About
    The following outline the typical categories in which stewardship projects fall:
  • Community Awareness/ Environmental Issues – highlighting a local resource or issue identified as having environmental, economic or social importance
  • Data Collection or Monitoring – long term research oriented projects
  • Restoration – commonly related to wetlands or invasive eradication projects


    Macro Invertebrates: A Comparison of Macro Invertebrate Diversity at Three Sites and an Investigation of the Presence of the Trematode Ribeiroia ondatrae at Neskowin Marsh
    by Andrew Kendoll, Jane Goodall Environmental Magnet School (PDF)

    Environmental Issue: Pipeline Oil Spill
    (Stewardship Project Example from John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge)

    Students Assist in Managing the Refuge
    (Stewardship Project Example from John Heinz at Tinicum National Wildlife Refuge)


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    Last updated: October 7, 2008
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