The Philadelphia Watershed Stewardship program is an initiative run in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department to empower high school students to become stewards of their environment. LandHealth supports these students/watershed stewards as they become change-makers, scientists, leaders and advocates for a better tomorrow, through natural history and urban ecology and better health of our watersheds.


The program is built on experience and exploration-- in-field and hands-on--to better understand the plants, animals, soil, water, and air of our city.  PWS offers several opportunities for students to share what they learn with community groups and the general public, becoming ambassadors for green spaces and clean water.


PWS' focus is on Cobbs Creek, home to vibrant communities in west Philadelphia.  While the creation of Cobbs Creek Park and Morris Park in Philadelphia in the early 20th century preserved hundreds of acres of open space, its benefits were offset by the toll from mass industrialization and modernization.  Polluted stormwater runoff, inadequate drainage systems, leaking septic tanks, illegal dumping, and other ills have degraded the quality of human and natural life in/around the watershed.  This is where PWS comes in!


Are you a high school student in Philadelphia, interested in the health of our city?

Apply below, through May 15th!

Returning stewards serve as mentors, and accepted students are eligible to receive a $500 stipend.


Trained as stewards of the creek, students gain real-world experience, and engage with environmental and civic leaders in the area.  Questions? (267) 571-5750 or info@landhealthinstitute.otg 



To bring environmental awareness and knowledge to young adults in Philadelphia as a mechanism to foster stewardship of urban green spaces and Green Storm Water Infrastructure

To empower high school students as agents of change and advocates of the environment though engagement and leadership opportunities

To teach networking and life skills for high school students, preparing them for their next steps in life

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Poems from our 2020 stewards

Stewards were tasked with writing group poems surrounding water pollution and plastics. They worked collectively as a team via zoom, with groups led by our alums- Nia, Imani, Sal, and Owen.

Poem 1

Plastics are bad,

animals will die,

how about we give recycling a try.

Plastic is toxic 

everyone should know 

depriving animals of their homes has got to go

Poem 2-- Plastic bottle life

What a sad life it is a plastic bottle with no plan

No plan and a not so clear destination 

Wondering around seeing many of my kind 

It follows gravity into the ocean

And drift-free into the deep

Oops I lost control a place to go may be just the tree downhill below

An exciting yet unknown journey awaits

Just landed in Korea that is not the place I wanted to be I wanted to go to Hawaii

To join the other hula skirts that settle at the bottom

With no sign of the  journey’s end, I let the current guide me to a distant land


Cydney Kyla

The Watershed Program has given me more knowledge and a new perspective on topics such as the Philadelphia sewer system and reducing, reusing and recycling. I am now realizing that my trash for one day can effect another country for years. Trash can go from a creek to a river to the ocean and travel all around the world for ever. Then if I think about the billions of other people in the world producing  the same amount of waste as me it is astonishing. Now I am learning that I need to be watchful of the products and things I am consuming/ buying and how they will then have a later effect.

Luofei Li

To me, natural science is very interesting and I enjoy learning about the different aspects of nature. At PWS, I’ve learned a lot about the river and how important it is to humans. I enjoy the weekly PWS sessions because they are informative and helpful in expanding my knowledge of the world. As this year progresses, I hope to continue learning about the cool things in nature.  

Sapphire Fuller

As stewards we have taken on marking storm drains. Basically we’re putting stickers onto the rainwater drains that can be found on the sides of the streets everywhere. “Think twice before littering or throwing trash down over here,” the stickers tell you, this drain leads right to your nearby river and wastewater treatment facility.

Indeed, what many people don’t realize is that whatever is on the road, quite often enters our storm drains and those materials often lead to our streams. Those are the same streams that run through our parks. In addition, we should think about the smaller things like cigarette butts that people just throw on the ground. Are we thinking about where they go, are they impacting our natural waters?

Hopefully this will help spread awareness and make people think twice before putting whatever on the ground or in the drains. Before throwing the trash down, I would like for them to think, “Wait a minute…”

Don’t leave something on the ground if it’s not something you would like to taste in your drinking water, that’s my motto.

Marking storm drains is fun work. It is important to spread awareness and it feels like I’m doing my part in the community.
If you’re interested in this type of work, go to:

Don Brooks

Today we Stewards went out kayaking and for the most part, none of us had ever done it before or didn’t even know what we were doing at all! But we all went out there and tried it out and ended up having a blast! I think that experience perfectly sums up this program. New, sometimes scary experiences, but also tons of excitement and fun, and at the end of the day we learn something new and walk away with an amazing new skill or experience that we would probably wouldn’t have ever learned or experienced without this program! On that same day, we also went out to Water Works in Fairmount to talk to some students from Texas! Which was cool and we got the opportunity to hear how they live with very limited water compared to us over here in Philadelphia. And it was a great learning experience that taught me to appreciate what I have because you never know what people could be going through somewhere else.

Makiyah Drayton

This program has impacted me over these past 11 weeks with having new opportunities to show or tell people how important our water is, how pollutants affect our water everyday, and how few people are doing something to help.This program teaches me new things everyday, I reflect more about my community and the people around me and how we impact natural areas. Before joining the program I knew little thing like, how people’s aren’t supposed to litter because it can pollute the water but it’s so much more than that. Now I know exactly what not to do and how to show other what their doing wrong and how they can help and how to take care of our communities and water.

Tales Williams

My thoughts on how the watershed stewardship has impacted me would be, it’s pretty sweet. I’m not much of an outside person but going here has changed my views a little. It takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in a place where I learn more about helping my planet than I was ever taught. It  is also impacted me in a financial way, allowing me to purchase a new desk to do my graphic work, which I greatly appreciate.

The Watershed Stewardship is a very outgoing program, taking us to see sights you normally wouldn’t even think about seeing, such as the Baxter Water Treatment Facility. We even got to go to the roof and see the beautiful river from afar. I myself didn’t look down due to a very dramatic fear of heights….. but ‘m pretty sure it was cool if you didn’t think about falling off the edge like I was. Either way, it was interesting to see the process of water filtration and how our health depends on it. Mostly. watersheds impact everything around us and learning how we are responsible for it’s health is very positive.  I hope we can continue to support Cobbs Creek natural area and I hope others will see the impact we make as well and do the same.

Marlaina Schiman

The Cobbs Creek Watershed Steward Program impacted many aspects of my life. The first, most noticeable, impact was that I met many people my age around Philly that I would not have met in my everyday life. The second impact was on my independence. During the program I went to a completely unfamiliar part of Philly, I’d often travel by myself. This increased my knowledge of Philly and my understanding of myself. The third impact that I noticed was an impact on my responsibility; I realized that I was able to volunteer for more events even if I had other things on the same day and not be nervous about my homework or other things. I am definitely a stronger person because of the Watershed Stewards program and believe I am headed towards a better career because of it.

Derek Koon Jr.

I‘ve been apart of Cobb’s Creek Watershed Program since Spring 2017.  One way that the program changed me is that  it made me aware of the impact that people have on our planet. I knew that people litter (especially in Philadelphia) on the ground, but I never knew how it affected the waterways in the city. On one of our trips, we noticed tires, shopping carts,  basketballs and other debris in the creeks.  I learned that we need to keep creeks and rivers clean to protect us  and the animals in their habitats from sickness.  If not cleaned, the debris from the creeks and rivers spill into the ocean.  Every year over 8 million tons of plastic is dumped in the ocean making our water unhealthy and killing the animals. 57% of the plastic in our ocean is bottles and other beverage containers and I know we can do better.

Another way this program has changed me is that my speaking skills have improved. At first, I was very shy when I talked, but now I am able to speak to any one. This program has also helped me get a job at the Philadelphia Zoo.I couldn’t be more thankful for everything that this program has taught me and I know it has helped me get one step closer to achieving my career goal as a marine biologist.

Charity Brown

Throughout the Philadelphia Watershed Stewardship program I have grown mentally and I have gained a lot of knowledge. When I first started the program I didn’t have any clue of what a watershed was or where did our water come from or go. before I started the program I didn’t think of myself as a nature person. It was a trip that I had went on with the program that really changed my view of my community. we had went kayaking and I saw how the water was so dirty and I just grew a passion to get my community together. My experience with the program has been so great. I really enjoyed the walks through the woods with Mr. Scott. I have seen a lot of things I have never seen in my life because of this program. It has showed a lot of new and amazing things. It has also given me a lot of knowledge I can take with me in life.

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Sponsored by Philadelphia Water Department.
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(267) 571-5750