Minnesota Water Stewards: Overview

What is a Minnesota Water Steward?

Developed by Freshwater Society in 2013, the Minnesota Water Stewards program is a volunteer program designed to equip community members with the knowledge and skills needed to improve water health at the grassroots level.

Stewards are certified by participating in a broad training curriculum designed by experts in the fields of hydrology, stormwater management and groundwater health, water policy, community-based social marketing, landscape assessment, and installation of clean water practices. At the end of the certification process, all Stewards complete a capstone project that improves the health of local water while involving and educating their community. Stewards then become a point of knowledge and influence in their communities.

"I am interested in becoming a [Minnesota] Water Steward because I care deeply for the environment, and want to be an active participant in improving local environmental issues."

-Courtney, 2017 Minnesota Water Steward Candidate


Minnesota Water Stewards are volunteering their time for watershed districts, cities, counties and environmental groups, participating in city and local government boards, influencing policy, and changing the health of our waters.

How does the program work?

The certification process comprises of both an online course and workshops covering a wide variety of topics including hydrology, water policy, community engagement, conservation, and residential stormwater planning.  All course content is designed by experts in their field. Upon the completion of coursework, Steward candidates are guided through a capstone project, which includes the installation of a water management project and a public outreach campaign. Applications for participation are accepted year round.

2016 MWS Graduation 078

Steward candidates are sponsored by their local water management organization or municipality and attend classes with a cohort of other candidates in their region. Click here to see a list of participating partner organizations.

Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact us for more information about the program.

Program Impact

Minnesota Water Stewards volunteer 50 hours of community service in their initial year of certification, at least 25 hours each subsequent year, and attend eight hours of continuing education to maintain their certification. To date, Stewards have accomplished a tremendous amount through their service.

They have:

  • Connected with thousands of people through outreach and educational events
  • Installed prairie restorations, rain gardens, cisterns, permeable pavement, buck-thorn removals, shoreline and habitat restoration and tree plantings 
  • Prevented millions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff from entering our lakes, rivers, and creeks  each year!

Going forward, hundreds of pounds of silt, leaves and plant material, animal waste, automobile gas and oil spillage, excess salt, and other debris will be removed from our neighborhoods annually. 


Ready to make a difference for water?