During 2012 a survey was distributed to Charlotte residents to learn more about community values and understanding of local water quality issues and concerns. The results of the survey were very informative, and revealed that residents of Charlotte are interested in water quality, and support their town in undertaking water quality initiatives.
In response, I was a core member of the group that formed a partnership to establish a town-wide water quality education program called Charlotte WatershED. This unique and forward-thinking endeavor captured the spirit of Charlotte citizens’ concerns for the quality of local streams and Lake Champlain. The partnership pulled together the expertise, creativity, energy and connections of several individuals and groups, in order establish effective water resource stewardship practices that will be passed from generation to generation.
The group hosted five events called WatershED Cafés. Approximately 200 hundred adults and children have attended the events to learn about the watersheds they live in and how to protect the natural resources in them. The program has sparked conversations in town about topics ranging from the impact of dog poop on water quality, landscaping with native plants, and volunteering to remove invasive plants from a local wetland. I created a website, set up a Facebook page, distributed an email newsletter, organized events, wrote grant applications, designed a logo and graphics for posters, announcements and mailings, and coordinated with partners and members of the volunteer group.
The group received letters of support and partnership from the Charlotte Central School, Charlotte Conservation Commission, Charlotte Library, VT Department of Environmental Conservation, Lake Champlain International, Lewis Creek Association, Shelburne Farms, Transition Town Charlotte, Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District and Bright Blue Media. Promotional activities began in November 2012 and several town citizens expressed positive feedback about the program. We also received verbal appreciation and recognition from the Charlotte select board and planning commission.