Big Sky Watershed Corps
Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) is an AmeriCorps program that places young professionals in Montana watershed communities where they make a measurable difference in local conservation efforts. This program is an awesome opportunity; allowing young professionals to work closely with a watershed community, implement specialized projects, and provide foundational assistance within their assigned organizations. BSWC is offered through a partnership with the Montana Watershed Coordination Council, the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, and the Montana Conservation Corps.
BRWF has been proud to host a member since the beginning of the program in 2011. It has allowed us to create a youth education program, build capacity and get more projects done for the Bitterroot Valley and we could not be more grateful.
Kalena Gravina - BSWC Member 2011-2012, 2013
Through her two years with BRWF Kalena built our youth education program. Beginning by completing the Youth Natural Resource Education Assessment of the Bitterroot Valley (YNREA) Kalena identified areas where BRWF could provide opportunities for watershed education throughout the Valley. From her research came the Future Irrigators of the Bitterroot Program, a bigger and better Riverfest,and BRWF’s role as the leader of the highly popular but under-funded Earth Stewardship Program (previously run by Bitter Root RC&D).
Kalena went on to Columbia University to pursue a graduate degree in Sustainability Management.
Katie Vennie - BSWC Member 2014
In addition to continuing newly crafted youth education programs, Katie brought a keen attention to detail and high level of creativity to BRWF. These skills helped her overhaul BRWF’s volunteer tracking and project monitoring, develop a new website, and publish fantastic outreach materials from educational brochures to event posters.
Katie was hired by BRWF in March of 2015 to serve as a full time Program Coordinator.
Carolyn Prescott - BSWC Member 2015
During Carolyn’s time at BRWF she shared her love of puns through outreach emails, keeping supporters informed and engaged about restoration and education activites. Carolyn coordinated BRWF education programs and worked with community members and Realtors to offer the first Adult Irrigation Tour, a spin-off of the Future Irrigators of the Bitterroot field trip.
Carolyn went on to another AmeriCorps program working as a field educator in Jackson, WY.
Stephanie Adams – BSWC Member 2016
During Stephanie's time at BRWF she helped bring more volunteers to the Bitterroot River Clean Up to remove more trash from the the river. She also established a new volunteer team, called the Watershed Enhancement Team, who help to complete maintenance tasks on previously completed projects. Stephanie also put together a standardized monitoring effort to help BRWF monitor project success and needs more closely.
Stephanie went on to work as a Project Coordinator for another watershed group in Minnesota and is now the Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana.
Our BSWC Members have
Educated over 3,920 youth
Taught 94 classroom lessons
Created over 24 partnerships
Organized 23 youth field trips
Hosted 3 adult education tours
Lead 58 volunteer days
Recruiting over 518 volunteers who have given 3,743 hours of service
Collected over 4,600 data points for project monitoring
Helped restore over 12,500 feet of streambank
Helped to reach the community through local Farmer's Markets
Drafted 17 publications
Kept the community informed with updates to the website, social media and our E-news
Julia Wochos – BSWC Member 2017
Throughout Julia's term at the Water Forum, she led and expanded the Watershed Enhancement Team, as well as coordinated a restoration project at the Hamilton River Park. She piloted a clean-up-all-year river cleanup effort and put together an adult irrigation and restoration tour. Julia also coordinated the Water Forum’s youth education programs and worked with a local rancher to develop to new irrigation curriculum for the Earth Stewardship Program.
Julia will be heading to Africa in 2019 with her husband Kevin to serve in the Peace Corps.
Aissa Wise - BSWC Member 2018
Aissa brought her passion and excitement for conservation to the Water Forum, making a big impact on volunteers throughout her term. Aissa helped get the Miller Creek project on the ground, and found her calling in volunteer management and watershed education.
She will be coordinating a stream monitoring team through the Watershed Education Network in Missoula.
Emilie Lahneman - BSWC Member 2019
Through her 10.5 month term Emilie was an valuable asset to our team. She shined in our watershed education program, grew and refined our Watershed Enhancement Team (WET), expanded on our "Clean Up All Year" program, and much more.
She headed back to the East Coast with hopes to return to Montana soon.
Grace Pierstorff - BSWC Member 2020
Although Grace's term with the Water Forum was impacted by the pandemic, she led the Watershed Enhancement Team (WET) on restoration project maintenance, created a virtual Field Trip for 7th graders in Ravalli County, and implemented a riparian planting at Hamilton's River Park. The highlights of her term included working with volunteers and implementing environmental education.
She will be heading back to Wisconsin and seeking jobs in the environmental education field.
Ellie DeVos - BSWC Member 2021
Joining the Water Forum in January of 2021, Ellie is tasked with strengthening BRWF education programs, increasing volunteer recruitment and involvement, and helping to build important relationships to help the Water Forum continue bringing people together for the waters we all rely on.