Who We Are

The Izaak Walton League was formed in 1922 to save outdoor America for future generations. The League's founders, who were avid anglers, chose to name the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler, one of the most famous books on fishing. We are one of the earliest conservation organizations to set an aggressive course to defend wild America by changing public policy. Almost every major, successful conservation program that America has in place today can be traced directly to a League activity or initiative.
Throughout more than 270 communities, our chapters advance the mission of the Izaak Walton League - restoring watersheds, reducing air pollution, fighting litter, protecting wildlife habitat and open spaces, and instilling conservation ethics in outdoor recreationists.  Our commitment to communities has allowed us to endure for more than eight decades.  Our optimism, our spirit, and our vision for a better outdoor America guide our work. For more information on the Izaak Walton League, please visit our Web site www.iwla.org.

The Izaak Walton League of America's Project Watershed is an award-winning environmental education and community outreach program. Since 1994, we have engaged Central New York middle school, high school, and college students and adult volunteers in monitoring water quality and conserving local streams. More than 1200 student and adult volunteers participate in the program each year.
Project Watershed has the following objectives: 

  • Engage students and adult volunteers in monitoring water quality and learning about water resources and pollution prevention strategies. 
  • Improve science education in high schools by providing outdoor learning opportunities, real-life applications of student science, and related curriculum activities. 
  • Provide quality-assured information on stream health to local, state, and federal agencies, environmental organizations, schools, and the public. 
  • Encourage lifestyle changes in high school students and adults that will lead to water conservation and pollution prevention in their communities. 
  • Improve the water quality and wildlife habitat of streams in Central New York.

Teachers and professors receive educational materials and activities they can use in the classroom to educate students about water quality, stream ecology, nonpoint source pollution, and pollution prevention. Project Watershed staff works with the teachers to set up field trips to an area stream where staff and volunteers teach students about the importance of water quality monitoring and how to follow proper data collection procedures at the stream site. Students collect physical, chemical, and biological data. The data is checked for accuracy and then uploaded onto our online water quality database. Ours is the largest publicly accessible volunteer stream monitoring database in New York. Students use their own data, and that collected by other area schools, for analysis and comparison by using activities we provide. Government agencies, including Onondaga County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, use the data for their watershed management and research. 
Project Watershed provides everything needed for a successful monitoring event to participating schools and adult groups at no cost to them. A Project Watershed staff member or volunteer brings the equipment and expertise to every monitoring event.  A teacher with little knowledge on the subject to begin with, and no money for such a program, need not feel that this great educational opportunity is out of reach. 
Project Watershed Success Stories

Project Watershed has been directly improving water quality and wildlife habitat in the Central New York area for years. When Project Watershed monitors discovered a sudden drop in water quality in Bear Trap Creek, they alerted County and State authorities who then discovered a problem with de-icing chemicals from Syracuse International Airport. The airport later installed a water filtration system that has dramatically improved water quality in Bear Trap Creek. Joined by students, neighbors, and county officials, the Central New York IWLA Chapter has since held annual Beartrap Creek clean-ups and continues to monitor the creek. In the latest effort on Beartrap Creek, a Project Watershed school enhanced fish habitat by installing an in-stream structure. The effort proved to be successful. Recent monitoring has shown a significant improvement in the numbers and variety of insects, crustaceans, and fish found in that section of the stream. 
In addition, monitoring results collected by Project Watershed volunteers are also used to impact public policy. High school students in Syracuse, New York, knew that a stream on school grounds had consistently high water quality based on regular biological and chemical monitoring through Project Watershed. They used this information and other facts to convince local zoning officials not to permit new development that could degrade water quality.
Project Watershed Volunteers and Advisory Board
Project Watershed distinguishes itself by the commitment brought to it by the many volunteers and IWLA staff who devote their time and resources to ensure that the program achieves its mission of bringing a high-quality, hands-on natural resource educational program to students and adults, engaging them to become better stewards of our natural world. 
To ensure that our objectives are met, Project Watershed has an advisory board made up of a consortium of educators, government and industrial environmentalists, water quality professionals, and Izaak Walton League members. The board provides in-kind support, guidance, and expertise to assist with the program's Web site, database management, community outreach, and finding ways to improve and grow Project Watershed.