Bridging the Watershed logo

What is this program?

Bridging the Watershed (BTW) is a "National Parks Labs" program that began in March 1998 in the National Capital Region with support from the National Park Service, Alice Ferguson Foundation, National Park Foundation, and Toyota USA Foundation.

Today the BTW program is a unique partnership among the National Park Service, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, schools in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and nonprofit organizations. BTW is now sustained with support from the National Park Service, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and grants such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The program is also expanding to schools in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and into Western Maryland.

How does it work?

The Bridging the Watershed program is available to high school teachers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Every summer a two-week teacher-ranger institute is held to allow new participants to learn about BTW curriculum and have an opportunity to experience the national parks in the Washington metropolitan area. Participating teachers receive a stipend and an option to earn four graduate credits. Teachers outside the Washington Metropolitan area may also be considered for participation. Contact the BTW Program Coordinator at (301) 292-8757 to learn how to participate.


BTW partners share a fundamental goal to educate the public about the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds in order to heighten awareness and develop stewardship for these resources. Science curriculum modules have been developed for high school students studying Earth science, chemistry, and the life sciences. Each module is composed of performance-based activities in which students examine and analyze the health of their watershed by applying science, math, problem solving and action skills. Students gather authentic data to assess and problem solve real-world issues in the parks and watershed.

Bridging the Watershed Program Include:

Alien Invaders
Water Canaries
Don't Get Sedimental
Talkin' Trash
Watershed Watchdogs
Assessing Exotic Invasive Species
Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates
Runoff and Sediment in the River
Make a Litter Difference
Accessing Water Quality

You may reach the Bridging the Watershed web pages at: for more information.

The following National Parks participate in the Bridging the Watershed program. Some parks have limited participation due to staff size and appropriateness of program modules.

Catoctin Mountain Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

George Washington Memorial Parkway

Fort Washington Park

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

National Capital Parks - Central

President's Park

Prince William Forest Park

Rock Creek Park


Additional program with a Chesapeake Bay theme.

Catoctin Mountain Park 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788. Call (301) 663-3988 or visit our website at

National Park Links to the Chesapeake Bay (7th Grade, Ages 11-13) Themes: Ecosystem, Watershed, Sources of Pollution, Wetlands.

An interactive computer program to help students realize the impact of their everyday decisions on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Koala-T, a waterdroplet character, leads students on a journey from a National Park to the Chesapeake Bay. At the end of the journey, a graph is displayed showing students the impact of their decisions on water quality. Educator'' Guide provided.

This loan program is available for loan through the mail at no cost. National ParkLinks to the Chesapeake Bay is IBM/PC and Mac compatible.