The Housatonic Valley Association received $20,000 in funding from two Connecticut agencies to support the HVA’s 2024 Still River Watershed Connections program.
The program is designed to connect Danbury-area youth with environmental restoration projects to provide hands-on environmental education and job skills training; educate youth about environmental careers; and raise awareness of the Still River in watershed communities, according to an HVA press release.
The HVA received $15,000 from the Fairfield County Community Foundation and $5,000 from FirstLight Power for the program, according to HVA Communications & Engagement Manager Kelley Hall.
“We are so grateful to Fairfield County Community Foundation and FirstLight for investing in youth education and career development in the sciences through our Watershed Connections program,” HVA Watershed Conservation Director Mike Jastremski said in a statement. “Getting these kids outside to build a sense of stewardship and excitement for their home river is huge, and their work helps improve our wildlife habitat and the quality of life for surrounding communities.”
The Still River Watershed Connections program, which is approaching its eighth year of operation, has touched over 700 kids since the program’s inception, “bringing awareness to a river that was an open industrial sewer for much of its history, with riverside neighborhoods designed to keep it out of sight,” according to an HVA press release.
In 2023, students with the Still River Watershed Connections program worked at project sites around the Still River Greenway, Lake Kenosia, Bennett Memorial Park and Erickson Road Kayak Launch.
With partial funding by the FirstLight Sustains program, the students’ work included clearing and mapping invasive species; planting around 60 native plants at Bennett Memorial Park in three riparian gardens; live-staking over 400 native willows around a restored streambank to serve as a deterrent for geese; and learning about water quality and data collection, according to HVA’s press release.