Outreach and Education Work Group

Kids in the Creek Lesson. Credit: Gary Peeples
Logo of the French Broad River Partnership

The Outreach & Education Workgroup’s mission is to support and develop outreach and education efforts to maintain and improve stream health within in the French Broad watershed.

Our long-term goal is to develop and implement a French Broad Outreach Plan.

Our short-term goals are:

  • To develop outreach materials
  • To develop a web presence for the Partnership
  • To publish a semi-annual newsletter
  • To carry out the Love Your Watershed project

Love Your Watershed Project

In early 2020, the Outreach & Education Workgroup developed a project proposal called the “Love Your Watershed: Cultivating River Stewards of the French Broad Basin” for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program, which was successfully funded and implemented.

Sorting the aquatic bugs students caught. Credit: Gary Peeples

The Love Your Watershed project incorporates three components – on-site riparian forest improvements; site-specific education and interpretive opportunities; and media-based interpretation and education.  On-the-ground conservation benefits include restoring 2 miles of waterways with riparian plantings, improving 5 acres of riparian corridors by removing invasive plants species, and improving aquatic and riparian habitat by removing 4,200 lbs of trash.

The project is being implemented at sites throughout the basin – six on the French Broad River or nearby tributaries, two in the Pigeon River subwatershed, and one in the Nolichucky River subwatershed.  Each site has a local host, including Bearwaters Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Headwaters Outfitters, Zen Tubing, RiverLink, Yancey County, Madison County, and the towns of Waynesville and Marshall.  Each site serves as a hub for restoration activities and education.  Restoration activities include riparian planting, invasive species eradication, and trash cleanups.  Education stations for citizens and visitors are being established.  Outreach materials such as bumper stickers, posters, and coasters, are being developed and distributed.  We anticipate engaging 250 volunteers, educating 350 students, and reaching 320,000 citizens.  

This project focuses on improving some of the most accessible riverside natural areas – for example, Madison County’s Marshall Island averages 50-200 users every day, with school groups using it every week, yet it is the scene of significant riverbank erosion, to the point it is becoming a hazard.  By focusing on some of these most accessible areas, this project would improve stream health, citizen awareness of stream health issues, and the outdoor experience at places where rivers are most accessible to the public.

As of June 2023, we have accomplished the following:

  • Held livestaking workshops at Cane River Park (Yancey County), Marshall Island (Madison County), and Vance Street Park and Bearwaters Brewing (Waynesville) as well at RiverLink’s Southside Community stormwater wetland project;
  • Developed social media educational content;
  • Developed and distibuted stickers, coasters, and posters;
  • Developed educational sign design;
  • Installed educational signs at all 9 sites.

Team members

  • Acting Chair: Andrea Leslie – NC Wildlife Resources Commission, andrea.leslie@ncwildlife.org
  • Lauren Daniel, NC Department of Environmental Quality
  • Preston Jacobsen and Mackenzie Tenan, Haywood Waterways Association
  • Jessica Hocz, Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Jonathan Hartsell, Blue Ridge RC&D
  • Maria Hughes, Mountain Valleys RC&D
  • Sandy Melton, Blue Heron Whitewater
  • Tracy Davids, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Keisha Lipe, City of Asheville

Get engaged

  • Interested in joining the Outreach & Education workgroup? Please contact Andrea for more information.