A newly metamorphosized stonefly stretches its wings at Gifford Pinchot State Park, Pennsylvania.What is DCNR'S Watershed Education Program?

Watershed Education (WE) is an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum that is geared for students in grades 6 -12. By blending hands-on classroom and field investigations modeled on professional research methodologies, students participate in data collection and analysis, community networking and partnerships, stewardship and service learning activities.

View the WE Curriculum Table of Contents pdf (102 kb)

The curriculum takes a comprehensive approach to learning about natural resources. Instead of focusing on simply monitoring a waterway, it allows students to look at all factors, past and present, human and non-human, which affect the entire watershed. Professionals from the Bureau of State Parks provide training and instruction.

Watershed Education provides:

  • Hands-on Field Investigations
  • Interdisciplinary lessons
  • Stream Monitoring instruction (physical, chemical and biological)
  • Journaling and WE portfolio development (link to Watershed Education Portfolio PAGE)

Watershed Education Addresses the following Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Standards:

  • Next Generation Science
  • Environment and Ecology
  • Science and Technology
  • Geography
  • History
  • STEM
  • and others

To participate in DCNR’s Watershed Education Program, educators must attend a PA State Parks Watershed Education Teacher Workshop. These workshops are taught by highly trained PA State Park Environmental Educators. All educators who attend a WE Teacher Workshop will receive a copy of DCNR’s Watershed Education Curriculum. These WE Teacher Workshops are typically one or two days in length. PA State Parks is a PDE approved Act 48 provider for this program.

Find a WE Workshop


The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks will provide:

  • The DCNR Watershed Education Curriculum
  • All necessary training on watersheds, water basins, and data collection
  • Loaner physical, chemical water testing, and biological sampling equipment (if needed)
  • Technical and field support from PA State Parks Environmental Education Specialists
  • The WE website, which includes the WE database for classrooms to share details about their watershed, input field investigation results, generate reports, and enhance their own data interpretation skills
  • A framework for communication and networking between schools and communities
  • Professional development on water and watersheds (including the initial Watershed Education Teacher Workshop)
  • Assistance in data interpretation and answering questions throughout the year
  • Assistance with designing a stewardship project in your watershed

Teacher/Leader Responsibilities:

  • Attend a Watershed Education teacher training workshop (WE Workshops are typically 1-2 days in length)
  • Find a stream for your classroom to study
  • Secure all necessary approval from school administration and land owner of WE study site (if needed)
  • Organize transportation to stream study site (if needed)
  • Obtain Educational Aquatic Field Study permit from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission http://fishandboat.com/education/collinfo.htm
  • Facilitate WE curriculum with your students
  • Create classroom and student WE watershed portfolios
  • Schedule field training with a Pennsylvania state parks educator (if needed)
  • Assist students with monitoring study site at least twice throughout school year
  • Ensure students enter stream study results into WE database
  • Coordinate a stewardship project for student participation


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