Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Master Water Stewards Take to the Road in Year Two

By Sage Passi

What surprises are in store for Master Water Stewards this year?
Our new team met with Kristy Odland, a recent LEAP Award homeowner,
to learn about her creative use of BMPs to protect nearby Beaver Lake.

Our new Master Water Stewards team, Paul Gardener, Bill Cranford, Rachel Hanks, Phyllis Webster and John Becker were recruited this fall to participate in the second year of the program and are headed down the road to becoming certified.  
In late September, before the program had officially begun, four of these prospective RWMWD Stewards joined us on our annual Watershed District tour. This was an opportunity to be introduced to our Board of Managers, Citizen Advisory Commission and staff. It gave them a jump start at viewing a variety of sites in our Watershed, talking with professionals and connecting with the previous RWMWD Master Water Stewards who have been active in the program since January. That’s packing a lot into one trip!

The Master Water Stewards program trains volunteers to work with Watershed Districts, WMOs and cities to design educational projects for their communities, reduce pollutants in urban runoff and infiltrate stormwater that would otherwise negatively impact local lakes, wetlands and streams. The training takes a year and then Stewards volunteer 50 hours in the first year and 25 hours a year in subsequent years. Eight hours of approved continuing education is also provided each year. The program is modeled after the Master Gardener/Master Naturalist programs with intentions to continue expanding across the metro area and outstate. 

During the District Tour, Erin Anderson Wenz talks about
a potential project at Willow Pond in Roseville.
The tour incorporated a stop at Lake Phalen with St. Paul Parks and Recreation Natural Resources staff to see their new restoration by the boat house, a visit to Willow Pond in Roseville with Barr Engineer Erin Anderson Wenz to learn about technology being considered to continuously monitor and control stormwater flow from this pond, a stop at Maplewood Middle School’s newly installed large-scale rain gardens and a drive by Markham Pond where Bill Bartodziej and staff are working on a project to control invasive carp, improve water quality, restore shoreline habitat and create a native fish sanctuary. 
The Watershed District Board of Managers, CAC, staff and Master Water
Stewards toured Snail Lake to view the flooding issues near Gramsie Road.

This travel route around the district culminated in a visit to observe the flooding on Gramsie Road near Snail and Grass Lakes. Mark Maloney, Public Works Director for the City of Shoreview, is working with the Watershed District and other local partners to address the water flow issues in this area and met with the group on site. Mark shared some history about the area and discussed the joint efforts of the city of Shoreview, Ramsey County Parks and other agencies who are teaming up to investigate and respond to these flooding problems. Click HERE to read an article about Snail Lake.

It was a stimulating introduction to the Watershed, an eye-opening opportunity to get more acquainted with the issues that the Watershed District is facing and provided a closer look at projects we are now involved in or may soon be implementing. 
We’ve Launched Year Two!

At St. Thomas University, Peggy Knapp, Freshwater Society, helped the new
teams from across the metro are get acquainted with the Master Water Stewards program.

 I Notice…I Wonder

Bill Cranford checks out how water
is channeled in Kristy Odland's yard.

A tour in early fall called “Wonder Wander” was customized to visit a variety of BMPs that illustrate the types of projects Master Water Stewards can work on with citizens and assist the Watershed District in implementing. At each of these stops, Stewards were asked to spend ten minutes making at least fifteen observations and captioning them “I notice” and “I wonder”.  
It's tempting to launch right away into giving information and answering questions, but with this approach of sharpening observation skills and encouraging pondering and wandering, more thought-provoking questions arose. What a difference this type of inquiry makes in turning a tour into a dynamic learning experience!

Master Water Steward Phyllis Webster contemplates Kristy Odland's
native hillside plantings and her other sustainable yard practices.

In the Casey Lake neighborhood, Stewards met homeowner, Dominic Cincotta, to explore his family’s curb cut rain garden in North St. Paul which is part of a cluster of fourteen rain gardens planted two years ago by residents and Master Gardeners. Stewards dialogued with Dominic about his rain garden installation and its functioning and upkeep. There were lots of good questions here!
Next stop was the Beaver Lake outlet on the south side of the lake where all the water upstream exits into the Beltline storm sewer system and heads downstream to the Mississippi River. I could tell the Master Stewards imaginations were opened up wide here!
Sarah Goodspeed and Rachel Hanks explore the outlet from Beaver Lake.

Where does the water go when it leaves Beaver Lake?
Answer: It goes through the Beltline storm sewer into the Mississippi.

At a residence across from Beaver Lake where St. Paul homeowner Kristy Odland has installed a variety of water-friendly practices, the group had a great time exploring the many creative elements in her yard and posing many great questions about the projects that helped Kristy earn her LEAP award in 2013. 
The final “Wonder Wander” took place at Cross Lutheran Church, a 2016 LEAP award-winning project in Maplewood, that enlisted many congregation members in the fund-raising, design, education, installation, planting and its maintenance for the past seven years. At this site Bill Cranford reminisced about seeing this garden just after its completion in 2010 at a workshop put on by the church that inspired him to engage his own church in installing a series of rain gardens.

Bill Cranford inspects Cross Lutheran Church rain garden.

The group came away from this tour charged and ready to go, with even more questions. The training program incorporates fifty hours of online curriculum and fifty hours of bi-weekly classes that continue until May, including a day-long rainscaping workshop in February.

Sarah Goodspeed and Kevin Zickert lead Master Water Steward classes.

The format of the classes has changed from last year to make it more interactive and engaging. Thank you to our co-facilitators, Kevin Zickert and Sarah Goodspeed, two former graduate Master Water Stewards, who lead these classroom sessions.
Deidre Coleman and Phyllis Webster converse at a Master Water Steward Class.
The program will climax with an intensive process of designing educational and stormwater related capstone projects during the remainder of the year.

Introducing Our New Master Water Steward Team

Each new Master Water Steward provided information about themselves when they applied. Here are several questions we asked each of them: 

  • Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward? 
  • What positions have you had, what is your involvement in community organizations and what are some of your accomplishments?  
  • What changes are you hoping to affect in your community? 
  • What are your skills and interests? 
  • What do you expect to gain from participating in the program? 
  • What changes are you expecting to affect in your community?

We got some intriguing answers and some clues to where we go next.

Paul Gardner

Paul Gardener received a LEAP award for his attractive rain
garden that addressed serious water issues in his yard.

Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward?

Having a rain garden at my house and serving on the Ramsey Conservation District, I am committed to learning more about best management practices so I can help spread them in our community.

Roof run-off from downspouts is directed into Paul Gardener's
upper rain garden which flows into a lower rain garden
 includes a curb cut that also takes street run-off.

What positions have you had, what is your involvement in community organizations and what are some of your accomplishments? 

Ramsey Conservation District Supervisor, District 1, 2015-present; Recycling and Solid Water Consultant, 2011-present; Member, House of Representatives, District 53A, 2007-2010; Executive Director, Recycling Association of Minnesota, 1997-2006; Member and Chair, Shoreview Environmental Quality Committee, 1998-2004.

What are some of your skills and interests?

Lots of work with databases including Microsoft CRM and Access.

What do you expect to gain from participating in the Master Water Stewards program?

I've had a lot of experience TALKING about better ways to conserve natural resources, but it has been many years since I got my hands dirty doing it myself. I'd like to get some more technical knowledge about stormwater BMPs.

What changes are you hoping to affect in your community?

Shoreview is a pretty green community with many lakes that add to our quality of life. By carrying out a project and talking with community members, I’d like to spread the use of BMP’s to a larger scale for the biggest impact possible.

Phyllis Webster

Phyllis Webster consults with Steve Mitrione, Capitol Region
Watershed District Master Water Steward, about runoff
 at her Maplewood townhome complex.

Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward? 

I live in a home association that is surrounded by three wetlands that are owned by the City of Maplewood. I've been an active member championing a community garden in the community for twelve years. My areas of interest include companion planting, composting, permaculture and edible forests. I see the environment as very interconnected and want to be part of the earth's healing.

What positions have you had, what is your involvement in community organizations and what are some of your accomplishments?

I work for Metropolitan State University as an academic advisor and community faculty. I've served on the Global Citizens Network board as their treasurer for seven years. Currently I'm the treasurer for Maple Hills Homeowner's Association and have held several different positions over the past twelve years.
I love gardening and working with plants, trees, shrubs, soil and land. As part of that passion, I recognize that water can be part of the solution, as well as part of the problem, if you don't understand how topography, sectors and zones work. A farm tour this summer left a huge imprint on me that explained berms, swales and keyline and the impact this practice has on sustainable farming. By working with the topography, it minimized the runoff and made the soil more fertile for production and minimal, if any, run off into the nearby lake. I love when you can create win/wins. Healing the earth is my passion, a calling, to be a good steward of our resources.

Phyllis Webster identifies a subwatershed on the model used
in the hydrology class for Master Water Stewards.
I love higher education where information is shared. I'm a life-long learner with an undergraduate degree in Accounting, Master's in Business Administration and Master's in Technical Communication. Currently I'm working on a 4th undergraduate degree that focuses on sustainability, master gardening, permaculture, composting, companion planting, edible forests and water quality.

What do you expect to gain from your participation in the Master Water Steward Program?

I have a paradoxical spiritual truth that when our hands are open to give, they are also open to receive. I have noticed that when I give, what I receive exceeds my expectations. Prosperity comes in many forms, if we are just open.

What changes are you hoping to affect in your community?

I hope to have an immediate impact on the wetlands, habitat, wildlife and water quality in my own Maple Hills community.


Bill Cranford 

Bill Cranford explores Kristy Odland's LEAP-Award winning
yard across from Beaver Lake.

Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward?

I’m quite interested in water quality, particularly the management of stormwater. I’ve planned and installed several rain gardens on local properties and utilized the cost share funding at both RWMWD and Capital Region. As my wife and I near retirement, we are looking for ways to use our time for the good of the community.

What positions have you had, what is your involvement in community organizations and what are some of your accomplishments?

First Covenant Church has installed several rain gardens over the years. I enjoy living on the East Side and am interested in improving this community. In 2013 I helped organize rain garden installations at both First Covenant and Holy Trinity Orthodox Churches. This project involved two churches, the Boy Scout Troop, Farnsworth School, Master Gardeners, the Green Corps and more than eighty volunteers.

Bill Cranford, Master Water Steward converses with Mark Doneux,
Capitol Region Watershed District administrator during the water policy class.

Skills and Interests:

I have good presentation and facilitation skills and am open to using these.

What do you expect to gain from participating in the Master Water Stewards program?

I hope to gain a professional-level of knowledge of water quality and management and plan to use this to assist with and organize water quality projects in the future. I’m interested in partnering with other local organizations in these projects such as churches, Urban Roots, etc.

What changes are you hoping to affect in your community?

Better knowledge of water quality management. We are very close to Lake Phalen, and can see the results of the water management efforts directly.

Rachel Hanks

Master Water Steward Rachel Hanks (left) and facilitator
Sarah Goodspeed (right) make plant observations in Cross Lutheran
Church rain garden in Maplewood during a tour of RWMWD sites.

Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward?

I am very interested in this field and have enjoyed participating in volunteer activities involving water conservation and education, including WaterFest at Phalen Lake. I have a BA in biology and MA in teaching. The basics of clean water are essential to life. If not given attention and action, healthy water will become compromised for larger and larger populations. Our watersheds are the source of sustainable water and education is needed to ensure they are protected, improved and sustained for the future generations.

Rachel Hanks documents water flow through gutters on the slope in Kristy Odland's yard. 

What positions have you had, what is your involvement in community organizations and what are some of your accomplishments?

  • 3M customer support team lead, supervisor and manager w-I managed teams, projects, budgets and participated in strategic planning. I retired in August of 2016 after 26 years.
  • 3M Visiting Wizards Trainer – a children and youth science encouragement program that brings hands-on science topics to students 
  • First Covenant Church of Saint Paul – volunteer church chair who moderated congregational and leadership meetings, participated in strategic planning and decision-making
  • A volunteer financial officer who analyzes and explains financial reports and budgets
  • A volunteer in children's programming by leading and storytelling and by actively participating with the gospel choir and worship team
  • A Family Values for Life volunteer for community events including registration at a school backpack give-away for over 1,000 children

Skills and Interests: 
I have helped design, install and maintain a few rain gardens. In the past I have helped design and set up relational databases. I really appreciate good signage.

What do you expect to gain from participating in the Master Water Stewards program?

I am looking to be better educated on the impact of water within our community, region and world. With an expanded understanding of the technologies and options to improve water quality will help me assist others to make changes and ensure our water is as good as it can be.

What changes are you hoping to affect in your community?

I live near Phalen Lake and the chain of lakes and streams within its watershed. I see the needs of improved water infiltration, for educating my neighborhood to THINK about our water and make intentional efforts to impact water that will be for the future generations.

John Becker

John Becker (left) gets introduced to the Master Water Stewards at Bang Brewery.

Why are you interested in becoming a Master Water Steward?

Water is a birthright for every living organism on the planet. Now that humans are the dominant species, we have a responsibility to take care of the resources that are necessary for life. For too long, water has been overlooked and taken for granted. I would like to be involved in drawing people’s attention to the need to secure this resource for now and for the many generations to come after.

Positions, community organizations in which you participate, accomplishments:

Cub and Boy Scout leader, worked with many scouts on camp projects as well as Eagle Scout projects involving landscaping and rainwater gardens; Baseball and basketball coach for over twelve years in Roseville Park and Recreation; Election judge since 2012; 30+ years working in theater industry, including sales, estimating and project management. Oversaw bidding, bonds, contracts, submittal drawings, coordination of crews utilizing ironworkers, electricians, stage riggers and other trades as needed. Worked with architects, engineers, specifiers, contractors, manufacturers, and subcontractors throughout the Midwest. Worked many exhibit booths at trade conventions, as well as trained groups of people on new equipment.

Skills and Interests:

Currently working on obtaining a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through the US Green Building Council.

What do you expect to gain from participating in the Master Water Stewards program?

A greater understanding and knowledge of the natural filtration of storm water and how we can divert more of it to aquifer replenishment instead of roaring torrents of stormwater that wreak havoc with erosion to natural streams and rivers.

What changes are you hoping to affect in your community?

A greater appreciation of what we have and how we can improve it for ourselves and the others who come after us.

Welcome aboard everyone. It’s going to be a great ride!

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