Three students sort inverts in the river

High School Watershed Science Apprenticeship

Each year, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum welcomes a cohort of motivated, curious local high school students to examine watershed science in the Champlain Valley. Led by Museum staff, small groups of students learn together though self-guided research, small group activities, meet-ups with professionals, outings to local sites, and more. This flexible program is ideal for students who are interested in aquatic science, fisheries, environmental science, or conservation.

Applications for the Fall 2020 semester are now closed. Apply today to join this apprenticeship in Spring 2021!

Image: Historic Winooski Dam, UVM Landscape Change Program

2020-21 Program: Dams in Champlain Valley

There are hundreds of dams around Lake Champlain, ranging from small dams from the early 1800s to the large modern hydro-electric dams. These human-made structures were the earliest way to supply power to Champlain Valley industry, and have served important purposes in the past. At the same time, the introduction of dams into the ecosystem has had immense unintended consequences throughout our history. The story of the creation and removal of dams in the Champlain Valley is one of individual ownership, collective good, environmental impact, habitat connectivity, and many more complex topics.

Our 2020-21 High School Watershed Science Apprentices will investigate dams in their local area to understand the complex history, impact, and management of these structures in the Lake Champlain watershed. Participants will visit local sites; research the history and modern story of their local dams; and meet environmental scientists, dam managers, and scholars who are evaluating dams throughout the region. This apprenticeship will culminate with a collaborative map created by the students to share their research and findings with their communities and peers. Students will emerge from this program with a deeper understanding of the conservation and stewardship issues relating to dams in their local areas. (Image: Bulldozer at Willsboro Dam, Credit: Alvin Reiner/Plattsburgh Press Republican)

Over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, small groups from Champlain Valley schools in Vermont and New York will begin investigations of their local dams. Each participating cohort can expect to participate in four outings or field investigations, plus additional virtual or in-person lessons with the Museum. The apprenticeship will generally feature two to three outings or activities per month, over the fall and/or spring semester. Participants are expected to commit to the majority of activities and also to contribute to independent or group research and reporting for the final project. (Image: Map of Champlain Valley Dams, from Lake Champlain Basin Dams)

This apprenticeship program meets personalized learning and Flexible Pathways goals. The 2020-21 program will incorporate more virtual learning than in the past, in order to facilitate sharing of research between participating school groups and to follow anticipated social distancing guidelines.  Accepted participants will work with the Museum and school advisors to arrange their schedule to participate in course activities. Upon registration, students will be sent a complete syllabus and detailed schedule.

This program is funded in part by Lake Champlain Basin Program.

View a sample syllabus for this program here: Dams in the Champlain Valley Syllabus Sample


Matt Harrison is the Educations Program Manager at the Museum, specializing in environmental history. Matt spearheaded our Stem to Stern curriculum and also leads after-school, summer camp, and Watershed Science programs. Matt is also a crew member on our replica schooner Lois McClure and a licensed Captain.

Elizabeth Lee is the Museum’s Director of Education and Interpretation. She has an MS in Environmental Science from SUNY Plattsburgh and is a National Geographic Certified Educator. Elizabeth is also a licensed Outdoor Guide in the State of New York, and has decades of experience leading experiential outdoor education programs for all ages.


If you have any questions or would like to learn more before applying for this program, please contact Elizabeth Lee at