Lake Education & Action Program (LEAP)
The Lake Education and Action Program (LEAP) encourages and facilitates stewardship projects that restore stream or shoreline habitat and that decrease runoff to streams and lakes. This program is led by the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resource Conservation District (PMNRCD) with Lake Champlain Sea Grant support. In 2021, LEAP was expanded to other watershed groups in the Vermont portion of the Lake Champlain basin. In 2022, the program expanded again, into the New York portion of the Lake Champlain basin. In addition to PMNRCD, participating programs in 2022 include: Friends of the Winooski River, the Missisquoi River Basin Association, and the Essex County, New York Soil and Water Conservation District.
The growing LEAP program demonstrates how community outreach and education can benefit local ecosystems. The program provides summer employment for high school or college student interns and junior staff. These interns engage in watershed science professional development opportunities and provide outreach to landowners to help them better understand what actions they can take on their properties alongside streams or lakes to protect water quality.
The interns engage in multiple types of stewardship activities such as planting trees and shrubs to restore or expand streambank or lakeshore vegetated buffers, installing infiltration steps that help protect shorelines and water quality, removing invasive species, or maintaining rain gardens. The culmination of their experience makes them valuable environmental stewards with the right tools to disseminate their knowledge into the community.
For more information about LEAP, email seagrant [at] uvm.edu.