New academy to train emerging leaders for local water

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Yahara Watershed Academy now accepting applications – Scholarships available!

MADISON, Wis. — A coalition of partners announced today that it is now accepting applications for the first-ever Yahara Watershed Academy. The hands-on crash course will train 25 promising individuals to be leaders for local water and jumpstart self-selected projects.

“The Yahara Watershed Academy will bring emerging leaders together to tackle our community’s most pressing water quality challenges,” said Bob Sorge, president of the Madison Community Foundation, which contributed funding to support the program’s first two years.

Who should apply

The Academy is intended for current and aspiring leaders who live or work within the Yahara watershed, encompassing lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa of the Yahara River chain. Ideal candidates may not typically be involved in issues of sustainability and conservation, but will have a passion for improving quality of life in the Greater Madison area. Applicants might hail from a business that wants to develop environmental leadership within its employees or from a neighborhood group that wants to build capacity.

“Our investment in this project is consistent with American Family’s approach to help strengthen communities where we do business to improve quality of life,” said Judd Schemmel, community investment director for the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, which provided a grant to support the academy. “We’re proud to help those doing the valuable work of educating more people to be passionate environmental stewards in their communities.”

Curriculum and schedule

The course will focus on timely topics including climate change, lake and watershed science, the land ethic, and health and economic intersections. Applicants commit to attending five daylong sessions between February and June of 2017 and completing required readings and coursework. At the end of the program, attendees will walk away with a strong network and an actionable project that will continue beyond the scope of the course. Ultimately, the program will expand local leadership, resiliency, and ability to react to water-related issues.

Collaborating to train leaders

The Academy is supported by a consortium of regional nonprofit organizations, government agencies and institutes of higher learning. Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Sustain Dane, and Clean Lakes Alliance serve as founding members and co-directors, while UW-Madison, Edgewood College, and Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District lead the creation and delivery of the program curriculum.

“These are everyone’s lakes, and the academy will tap into Madison’s diverse communities to train tomorrow’s water quality leaders and advocates,” said Paul Robbins, a long-time champion of the effort and director of the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Discounted rates are available for applicants sponsored by a nonprofit or governmental entity. Several scholarships will be offered thanks to a generous grant from Dane County.

Sponsor or apply

To learn more about the program, become a sponsor, or apply to join the inaugural class, please visit www.cleanlakesalliance.org/yahara-watershed-academy Applications are due by Thursday, January 5, 2017.

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