Steward Spotlight: Katie Matta

Katie Matta, Class 10

 Steward Candidate Thomas Marston (left) and Katie Matta (right) installed a rainbarrel on Marc Wirig’s home in Hillsmere.

Steward Candidate Thomas Marston (left) and Katie Matta (right) installed a rainbarrel on Marc Wirig’s home in Hillsmere.

Why did you become a Master Watershed Steward? 
I work for the Environmental Protection Agency, but most of my work is done on a computer. I was interested in doing hands-on environmental work that would benefit my community, especially the drainage creek in my backyard.

What was your capstone project?
It's Kitty Duvall Creek Buffer Planting Project. This little creek drains 142 acres of Hillsmere Shores community into Duvall Creek which opens to the South River. On October 13th the planting effort will take place - three conservation landscapes in three backyards and three buffer plantings on slopes and banks within 20 feet of the creek in three backyards. Two of the properties were identified as good candidates for rain cistern/barrels, which were installed September 13th with the help of a property owner and four other WSA volunteers.

How did you hear about WSA?
I moved back to Annapolis in November 2016 and did some internet searches on local environmental organizations.

Why is restoring the waterways important to you?
I grew up in Annapolis and learned about Chesapeake Bay issues at various environmental camps including one at Arlington Echo. When I was 16, I volunteered for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation at Meredith Creek, a place where I had gone marsh mucking and canoeing at summer camp. It's rewarding to come home and do work through WSA that is directly linked to Bay health.

 Katie Matta and Ann Brown planting natives at the Class 10 project.

Katie Matta and Ann Brown planting natives at the Class 10 project.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the certification course?
I was surprised with the number of restoration projects completed and in the pipeline by AA County and the South River Federation.

What was your favorite project you worked on after becoming a Master Watershed Steward?
I've never applied for a grant before and it's rewarding to gain the skills and confidence to do so. I applied for and received a South River Federation Stewardship grant for my capstone project.

What advice do you have for our Class 11 Steward Candidates?
If there are Stewards in your neighborhood, talk to them about your project ideas and get their input. If this is the first time you are getting involved in your community, get to know board members/officers/involved residents. They have experience and insight that may be useful as you finalize your project idea and seek community buy-in. Your classmates and other Stewards are a great resource - many have environmental or project experience beyond the WSA classroom and are willing and able to lend a hand. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

How do you plan to continue engaging the community in your environmental efforts?
I wrote an article for our community newsletter about rain barrels and I will continue to write short articles for our newsletter on various rainscaping topics. Several other Hillsmere Watershed Stewards have expressed a willingness to write articles as well. Maybe I will apply for another South River Federation grant if there is interest and financial support (you need matching funds) for another project. A longterm goal (dream?) is to make Kitty Duvall kayak/canoeable again. Through my project I found out that 30 years ago I could have put a kayak in my backyard and floated down to Duvall Creek. I would love to do that!

When you work full time and have young kids and move to a new area, it is not easy to meet other adults. My husband and I were able to attend the South River on the Half Shell and the GreenGive Kick-off Party this year and ran into Stewards and Hillsmere residents who I wouldn't have met if it wasn't for WSA. These friendships are just forming, but we are starting to feel more a part of our neighborhood and greater Annapolis community.

 Kevin Green, Thomas Marston, Monica Maynard, Katie Matta and Marc Wirig install a rain barrel in Hillsmere.

Kevin Green, Thomas Marston, Monica Maynard, Katie Matta and Marc Wirig install a rain barrel in Hillsmere.