Watershed Technician Training Program

Empowering Young People to Care for our Watersheds

Part of the Basins of Relations Watersheds Program

91551b7f-8390-42c9-a9db-988149e33202Basins of Relations trains young people from West Contra Costa County to become stewards of their watersheds, communities, and the creeks that run through them. Natural spaces in urban areas are frequently neglected, fenced off, overgrown, and viewed as a public safety hazard rather than a community resource. This trend is especially pronounced in underserved communities of color. The Basins of Relations program seeks to fight this injustice and reconnect members of the Richmond community with their natural surroundings.

Each year, this program employs and trains a Watershed Restoration Technician (WRT) team capable of contributing to restoration projects and leading watershed awareness programs in West Contra Costa County. Over the course of a summer training program and a year-long apprenticeship, the WRT team develops a set of skills and expertise that will help them support their local watershed, their community, and their own career. Topics covered include riparian ecology, native flora and fauna identification, horticulture, hydrology, water quality testing, community engagement and leadership, stormwater management and creek restoration.

We are grounded in the belief that watershed health and community health are intimately connected: we cannot have one without the other. This program seeks to improve the health of all living beings in the watershed.


Basins of Relations: Watershed Technician Training Program

Our Watershed Technician Training Program engages a crew of 10 young adult ‘apprentices’ from West Contra Costa County and provides them with the background information and skills necessary to begin a career in environmental stewardship. Apprentices in the 15-week training program take a classroom course on creek restoration, watershed stewardship, and much more:

Training Program Topics:

Riparian ecology Native flora and fauna California plant communities Native plant propagation
Hydrology Stormwater Management Creek restoration Watershed Dynamics
Community engagement Social and environmental justice Global environmental challenges Career development and leadership skills

These topics are driven home through classroom exercises, field work on creek restoration projects throughout the Wildcat and San Pablo Creek Watersheds, work in our native plant nursery, and guest lectures from local scientists and activists.

The goal of the program is to invest in young adults from Richmond and San Pablo and drive home two related messages: 1) a career in environmental stewardship is within your reach and can be a fulfilling and healthy path forward for you and your community. 2) The health of our watershed and our communities are inextricably linked: we cannot have one without the other.



  • Program apprentice graduation rate (2016): 78%
  • Improvement in conceptual understanding, post v. pre-tests: 90%
  • Area of invasive species removed: 4000 sq. ft.
  • Green infrastructure projects installed: 3
  • Native plants established at Wildcat Creek: 250

What’s Next?

  • Restoration Design Group is currently developing a plan for a complete ‘green street’ along Fred Jackson Way in North Richmond (complete with bike lane, sidewalk, and native plant rain garden), as well as a holistic restoration plan for two sites at Wildcat Creek in North Richmond, funded by a Coastal Conservancy planning Grant. Urban Tilth’s Basins of Relations crew will implement these projects in future years. (Could link to the scope of work/overview document)

For more information or to get involved, contact Nathan Bickart, Watershed Restoration Program Manager: nathan@urbantilth.org