The Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy envisions every community in Anne Arundel County actively engaged to ensure clean water. Our mission is to develop citizen leaders to promote community change for clean water. WSA builds capacity in Anne Arundel County by training Master Watershed Stewards to help neighbors reduce pollution in our local creeks and rivers. Our hands-on certification course gives Stewards the tools to implement change in their communities, turning knowledge into action.  Stewards work with their communities to install projects such as rain gardens or conservation landscapes and to reduce pollution at its source. Collectively, these small community-based actions are improving the health of the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed.



In 2005, Ron Bowen and Ginger Ellis of DPW began meeting with Stephen Barry and Suzanne Etgen of Arlington Echo to brainstorm ways to turn this growing awareness into action.  Over the next 2 years, and 100s of hours, the Watershed Stewards Academy concept was born. After pitching the idea to a few funders, initial funding was secured. In December 2008, a staff person, Suzanne Etgen, was dedicated to work with the program and WSA was born.

Early in the development of WSA, about 40 partners, consisting of RiverKeepers, landscape architects, local government leaders and environmental activists, were engaged to assist in the formation of the key components of the program:  Certification Curriculum, Tool Box for Sustaining Action and Consortium of Support Professionals. In March 2009, WSA began training our first class of 32 Master Watershed Stewards.

Since the spring of 2009, over 200 Master Watershed Stewards have been certified. In the fall of 2018, we began training the eleventh class of Master Watershed Stewards.  Master Watershed Stewards have been active throughout the County, educating their communities, building rain gardens, planting trees, talking about pet waste. They truly are an army of leaders motivated to restore our waterways.

Steve Barry, Ron Bowen, Ginger Ellis and Suzanne Etgen

Steve Barry, Ron Bowen, Ginger Ellis and Suzanne Etgen

Success Stories

Congregational Steward Training

Sixty members of Asbury Broadneck United Methodist, Fresh Start Church in Glen Burnie and the Islamic Society of Annapolis participated in WSA’s Congregational Steward training program to learn about the ways they could care for Creation on their own properties. After getting the waterway restoration bug, 30 congregants from these communities installed projects to reduce polluted runoff from their own property. In all, 27 conservation landscapes, 10 tree plantings and 62 rain barrels are a tangible reminder to congregants that caring for Creation begins at home.

One congregation, Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church, has a big problem. Every time it rains, polluted runoff from 34 acres of uphill development courses through its historic cemetery, pushing up caskets and overturning gravestones. To better understand the hydrology behind the issue, congregants reached out to stormwater professionals. “I reached out to find help and as a resource to educate myself,” said church member Kimberly Hickey. Kimberly and three other congregants participated in WSA’s certification course, and 18 members participated in the Congregational Steward program. Through the collaboration of Master Watershed Stewards, partners and WSA staff, the congregation will soon break ground on a project to treat 45,312 gallons of polluted runoff and protect the final resting place of over 2,000 residents, including former slaves and civil war heroes. “It’s been a gift,” said ABUMC Pastor Stephen Tilley said of the project. “We are grateful.”


It’s going to take everyone making sure stormwater doesn’t leave their property. The problem is so big it’s going to take everybody getting involved.
— Betsy Love, Class 6 Master Watershed Steward
Becoming part of WSA moved me from talk to action and gave me a source of experts and support people to assist with the action.
— Ann Jackson, Class 1 Master Watershed Steward
While the challenges are great, the opportunities to conserve and preserve this precious gift of water are even greater. It takes each person doing their part.
— Kirvin Bonner, Class 7 Master Watershed Steward


Since 2009, WSA has certified over 200 Master Watershed Stewards from Brooklyn Park to Herring Bay. Each year, these Stewards collaborate with neighbors, businesses, schools and each other to install HUNDREDS of projects that reduce pollution in our rivers and streams. In 2017, Stewards collectively:

  • Planted over 7,100 native trees and plants

  • Removed 263,300 square feet of invasive plants

  • Installed nearly 100 projects ranging from rain barrels to stream restoration covering an area of nearly 897,000 square feet

  • Provided over 8,000 Anne Arundel County residents with environmental education and technical assistance

Maryanne Group.jpg



Watershed Stewards Academy Celebrates 10 Years of Saving Local Waterways- The Capital Gazette
Watershed Stewardship: An Ethic in Action- Chesapeake Quarterly
As Master Watershed Stewards, Severna Park Residents Preserve The Environment- Severna Park Voice
Calling All River Heroes- Bay Weekly
Stewards Of The Bay: Trained Right Here At Home- What’s Up Magazine
Academy Helps Communities ‘Take Ownership of Their Stormwater’- Bay Journal

class 10.jpg

Upcoming Events

WSA Class 10 Graduation

Thursday, November 29th
6:30-8:30 pm
Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center

WSA's 10th class of Master Watershed Stewards will graduate on Thursday, November 29th! Over the last year, these 21 Candidates engaged their schools, places of worship and local communities to reduce polluted runoff and completed 16 capstone projects! From planting a stream garden in Glen Burnie to creating and implementing an after school program about oysters and aquatic pollution for 4th and 5th graders at the Monarch Academy, the impact of this class reaches across Anne Arundel County.

Join us to celebrate the achievements of Class 10 and toast to their continued success.

Click here for details and to RSVP.


Suzanne Etgen, Executive Director
975 Indian Landing Road, Millersville, MD 21108

Katie Foster, Development and Communications Coordinator