Stewardship Behavior

How many volunteer hours were logged in the watershed through the work of six NH stewardship groups in 2015 and 2016?
Additionally, how many signups and events for stewardship-related activities were completed through The Stewardship Network: New England from 2015 to 2016?

In 2015, there were 44,174 volunteer hours logged in the watershed through the work of six selected New Hampshire-based stewardship groups. In 2016, there were 39,788 volunteer hours logged in the watershed through those same six selected groups.
In 2015, there were 422 people who signed up for 122 events in the watershed, and, in 2016, there were 524 people who signed up for 96 events in the watershed through the Stewardship Network: New England.

Stewardship of local ecosystems improves environmental conditions and fosters and sustains a sense of investment in, and value for, the long-term wellbeing of those systems. No matter how stringent local environmental regulations are or how advanced wastewater and stormwater technology becomes, local communities cannot be truly sustainable without an engaged citizenry that takes action to care for and protect local natural resources. Environmental stewardship in communities has been shown to create personal connections to the landscape and improve local quality of life, and its role in strengthening the social resilience of communities is being studied.74 Many organizations, groups, and individuals in the Piscataqua Region are already working to ensure that stewardship culture is ingrained in the identity of local residents. The health of this region depends on this stewardship culture’s capacity to reach and engage new demographics of residents, including newcomers to the region and the growing millennial population.
No goal.
Stewardship can be defined as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.75 While there are many active organizations working on stewardship and conservation across the region, PREP developed criteria for which groups’ data would be used for this indicator. These include 1) regular collection of volunteer data; 2) opportunities for engagement offered for a majority of the year; 3) stewardship activities occurred within the PREP watershed boundary and 4) a focus on coastal resources. The entities selected were the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), the Gundalow Company, the Seacoast Science Center, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development (NHDRED), and the Coastal Research Volunteer (CRV) Program at University of New Hampshire Sea Grant.

These organizations have dedicated volunteer bases that combined to donate 44,174 hours in 2015 in the Piscataqua Region and 39,788 hours in 2016 (Table 23.1). Using the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics volunteer rate for New Hampshire ($24.90 per hour), the estimated economic value of this contribution is $1,099,993 in 2015 and $990,721 in 2016.76 These volunteers work tirelessly to care for the local landscape, be it through cleaning up litter on a beach, restoring eroded dunes, counting glass eels, or teaching students about the historical significance of Great Bay and its tributaries. The work of these passionate volunteers improves environmental conditions and lays the foundation for increased understanding of, and appreciation for, local natural resources. By tracking the hours donated by volunteers from these well-established groups, PREP can track the activity of a dedicated group of stewards in the region. PREP hopes to expand the number of organizations contributing to this indicator in the future, with a particular focus on those that work in Maine.

It is crucial that this spirit of stewardship and understanding of local ecosystems continue in the region, especially as populations increase and our natural resources are more heavily utilized. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension launched The Stewardship Network: New England in 2013 to address New Hampshire’s growing need for increased stewardship capacity and volunteer coordination. The Network’s mission is to mobilize volunteers to care for and study the lands and waters in New England. In keeping with this mission, the Network cultivates an online hub for stewardship and citizen science volunteer opportunities and trainings. Their website ( and weekly e-bulletin are utilized by hundreds of organizations to promote hundreds of stewardship opportunities and events. There are thousands of subscribers interested in taking part in these activities, and The Stewardship Network tracks how many people sign up and how many hours were spent on each event. Additonally, The Stewardship Network can select data by zip code, including the coastal region. In 2015, 422 people signed up for 122 events, and in 2016, 524 people signed up for 96 events (Table 23.2).

Table 23.1 Volunteer hours by selected stewardship groups by year.

Table 23.2 The Stewardship Network: New England volunteer event data in the Piscataqua Region by year.