Lake Education & Action Program (LEAP)
The Lake Education and Action Program (LEAP) encourages and facilitates stewardship projects by landowners 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 with Lake Champlain Sea Grant support. In 2021, LEAP was expanded to three other watershed groups in the Lake Champlain basin: Friends of the Winooski River, Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District, and the Missisquoi River Basin Association.
The LEAP program provides summer employment for high school or college student interns or 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 bring their learning and outreach full circle by planting trees and shrubs to restore or expand streambank or lakeshore vegetated buffers, and/or by installing other types of practices, such as infiltration steps that help protect shorelines and water quality. The interns also engage in stewardship activities such as invasive species removal and rain garden maintenance.