When we think of stewardship one of the first things that the majority of people seem to think of is the land, as in dry land. They think of protecting forests, prairies snd ect… in my experience the majority of time I ask someone what do they envision as a steward they seem to have this image of a farmer. Though it’s not directly related it seems to be the main image that people express. The second one seems to be a gardener. It’s only after discussing it a while longer that more of the image comes to mind.
One of the answers and topics that almost never comes up in discussions, unless I bring it up, is being a water keeper. The majority of Americans, and presumably most first world nations, actually have very little interaction with natural water. It’s something that is sometimes scenic in their walks such as a river boardwalk or if they live near a pond or ocean they see it. But beyond that there is little interactions with it.
One of the biggest gaps between being someone that just takes from natural resources versus someone who gives back is having a connection with it. Most people can’t tell me the basic “anatomy” of the sea closest to them. They have no idea what it’s topography is like. They can’t name 5 rivers or 5 ponds from within their own city. If they can name them they can’t tell you how deep it is , how shallow it gets during the summer or what watershed it’s part of or flows into. They can’t tell me the most common plants growing along its banks and if they are native or non native plants. They can’t name 5 species of turtle or fish that live in it. They have no idea if there are oysters in any of them. They can’t tell you typically even 1 endemic species from various flora and fauna families found within that watery ecosystem. Being disconnected to your local waterways is the main reason why you’ll struggle being a good steward of it.
So what are some of the ways you are currently helping generate cleaner water in your local ponds, rivers , bays, and wetlands? When is the last time you walked down a river in its water? There are also all kinds of other ways to bring attention to why we need healthy waters. You can look into social Justice concerning them such as have lots of dams been added to help redirect water towards more affluent neighborhoods causing water to be way to shallow for way to long in poorer communities? You can teach about indigenous people who use to live in your area and see what did they write and say about their rivers? You can try to find data about how much water is your local farms using for livestock from watering them to watering feedstock crops. You can randomly text water in spots to see it’s chemical composition and if there is to much of this or that in it from things like pesticides and fertilizers or production waste.
There are probably local water keeper groups where you live.
What are some memories you have as a kid of a river or pond and have you helped create similar memories in your kids? Just in general how do you contribute to what is happening with water in your area even if it’s a small thing and how do you keep a connection as a steward of the land and waters with the local ones near you?