Illinois-Indiana Master watershed Steward program

The Illinois-Indiana Master Watershed Steward Program engages participants as stewards of natural ecosystems and resources through science-based education and volunteer service in their communities. We train volunteers to promote healthy watersheds by increasing their understanding of potential causes of water resource degradation and providing the knowledge and tools they need to identify, prevent, or resolve water quality problems.

The curriculum focuses on topics such as water quality science and the impacts of climate change, invasive species, and agriculture on water bodies. The Illinois-Indiana Master Watershed Steward Program Toolkit provides all materials necessary to guide hosts and future Master Watershed Stewards through eight interactive sessions. Upon completion of the training, Master Watershed Stewards engage in restoration science, community science, and community education programs with local partners. 

The program is offered state-wide in Illinois and Indiana as a collaboration between Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, University of Illinois, Purdue University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other partners.


Master Watershed Stewards are trained volunteers who understand how watersheds function and are willing to help with watershed improvement efforts in their communities.


Master Watershed Steward volunteers learning how to assess water quality in a local stream
Master Watershed Steward volunteers learning how to assess water quality in a local stream.


After completing the training program, Master Watershed Stewards put their knowledge to work by participating in various volunteer projects, depending on their interests. Some examples include:

  • Monitoring streams for plants, animals, and water chemistry.
  • Assisting with local streambank restoration projects.
  • Joining a local watershed group.
  • Promoting safe boating on local waterways.
  • Organizing a riverside clean-up event.
  • Staffing an information table at a local festival or event.
  • Organizing community workshops on topics such as rain barrels, rain gardens, wildlife, pollution prevention, or invasive plant control.
  • Working with community leaders to find creative ways to protect local rivers and streams.

To learn more about the Illinois-Indiana Master Watershed Steward program, contact:

Kara Salazar, AICP, PCED, LEED AP ND, Assistant Program Leader for Community Development and Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist
Purdue Extension, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Access the external program site using the link below:

Illinois-Indiana Master Watershed Steward Program