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Discovering the Delaware - Youth Engagem
Discover the Delaware Watershed Youth Engagement Program

Project Purpose: The intention of this project collaboration is to engage in permanent and sustained on-water education programs for local students and families expanding on the accomplishments of this proposal. The project will form a strategic alliance that begins with awareness, education and training activities, and leads to engagement with and stewardship of the local Camden waterways. The unique partnership of local government agencies with religious and secular nonprofit organizations positions this project to successfully engage the formal education community in understanding the importance of their local waterways and to promote the protection and restoration of the Delaware River watershed. Student, administrator, and teacher participants in the educational and training components of the project will gain extensive knowledge of local waterways, environmental pollution and urban sustainability. This outreach and immersion effort will support the process of building conservation literacy and stewardship and directly supports the Delaware River Watershed Business Plan.

Brief Description: The Discover the Delaware Watershed Youth Engagement Program is focused on engaging youth in middle and high school grades through in-class and on-water experiences on the Cooper River and Delaware River Back Channel, as well as through conservation service projects in the City of Camden, Camden County and Philadelphia. This project will be based on leading research for integrating environmental education into formal education, will provide significant life experiences on nearby waterways, and will result in conservation outcomes that we believe will become a national model for youth engagement.

Students and adults will be immersed in nearshore and aquatic habitats. Sixth grade students will explore nature through hands-on experiences and on-water wildlife and habitat immersion. Eight grade students will also have hands-on experiences and on-water wildlife and habitat immersion and will have the opportunity to serve nature as stewards through conservation projects that monitor habitats and track wildlife, build and maintain wildlife habitat, and explore fields of study related to conservation fields.

Resource Values/Project Outputs:
Audience and Activities
The Discover the Delaware Watershed Youth Engagement Program addresses the following audiences:
1. Administrators - Influencers are critical in supporting and sustaining robust environmental education opportunities for students. Up to 75 administrators from the Camden and Philadelphia County public, charter, mastery, renaissance, and religious schools will be recruited for a 2.5-hour boat/paddle trip.
2. Teachers - Teachers support additional in-class student engagement opportunities that link formal and informal watershed experiences. Their training and exposure will provide opportunities for students beyond the scope of this project. Up to 35 teachers will be recruited to participate.
3. Students - Student engagement with their local watershed promotes connection, caring, learning, stewardship, and career exploration. Up to 552 students (192 6th grade, 280 8th grade, and 80 from Philadelphia middle and high school) from the urban districts of Camden City and Philadelphia, and Camden County will be engaged.
On-land programming will be developed by the project team and will encompass content such as point and nonpoint source pollution, native vs. invasive plants, nearshore ecology, animal ecology, the water cycle, land and water conservation. On-water programming, also developed by the project team, will provide content such as boating skills and safety, water quality, macroinvertebrates, local history and watershed impacts, interconnectedness of water and land. Finally, older students will be able to participate in actual conservation projects. These projects will reinforce learnings and skills, while allowing them to explore environmental careers. When combined, this Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences model (MWEE, developed by the Chesapeake Bay Program) provides students with critical thinking opportunities through real-world experiences in and out of the classroom and actionable projects connecting them to their environments.


The target for serving minority and/or underserved students is 60%. The percentage of students who have had access to conservation and stewardship opportunities like those proposed in this project is projected to be 20%. We anticipate that 50% of all students who participate in this project will continue to have such opportunities.


Conservation Projects:

There will be a priority for projects that are along waterways and in highly visible locations that help tell the story of the waterway’s restoration to the public. Project ideas proposed (but not limited to) are:
1. Osprey platforms (3)
2. Monarch butterfly rearing/release (10 beds)
3. Floating Wetlands (TBD)
4. Tree plantings and Riparian plantings (TBD)
5. Petty’s Island restoration activities (TBD)

Cost/Budget: Total Cost $258,973, match requirement is 50%. NFWF request is $129,440.

Permit Status: N/A

List of Partners: Camden County Parks, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, NJ Natural Lands Trust, NJ Conservation Foundation, Upstream Alliance, Coopers Ferry Partnership, Urban Promise Schools, Independence Seaport Museum.

What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution: We respectfully request $15,000 towards our match requirement.

Point of Contact: Angela Wenger, 856-361-1011,

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