About the Native Plant Stewardship Program
The Native Plant Stewardship Program began in 1996 in
response to numerous requests for public information about native plants and native plant habitats. This community-based program is designed to provide opportunities for citizens to conserve, protect, and sustain the biodiversity of the native flora in Washington. Local citizens become stakeholders in the education, preservation, and restoration of native plants and their habitats through Native Plant Steward training. Their contributions are critical to sustaining air and water quality, habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife, and the overall biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest.
Training curricula will vary from region to region but always include basic botany and native plant identification, the roles of native plants in local plant communities and ecosystems, the use of native plants in habitat restoration, gardens, and landscapes, and methods and techniques of ecological restoration. Special training components may be included to meet local chapters’, partners’, or funders’ needs.
Training is provided in both classroom sessions and field trips. Training is provided by experienced and qualified experts from academics, government agencies, private conservation organizations, and other parts of the private sector.
In exchange for their training, stewards make a commitment to return volunteer service hours at least equal to the training hours received on projects identified and approved by the WNPS in the following 12-18 months. Volunteer efforts may include habitat restoration in forests and woodlands, shrub-steppe and Puget Lowland prairies, and riparian, and wetlands ecosystems, as well as environmental education, and institutional support for WNPS and other conservation organizations.
- To train and create a citizenry informed about native plant ecosystems and their critical value to the health of Washington’s natural resources and quality of life.
- To provide the highest quality training utilizing experts and specialists in a variety of disciplines.
- To make the Native Plant Stewardship Program accessible to a wide range of individuals.
- To provide motivation and inspiration for community service and involvement in restoring native plant ecosystems and educating others.
- Encourage and support Native Plant Stewards to become recognized assets to their community.
- Foster partnerships with other groups, organizations, and agencies.
Become a Native Plant Steward
- Learn to identify local native plants
- Learn about the ecology of local plant communities and wildlife habitats
- Learn current restoration and landscaping skills
- Learn how to identify and control invasive weeds
Commit to Restoring Native Habitat
- Help restore our forests, grasslands, salmon streams and wetlands
- Help create native plant gardens and schoolyard habitat
- Help educate the public about native plants and habitats
Share Your Expertise with Others
- Provide guidance and inspire others
- Work with children and young adults
In Their Own Words
"I've learned so much about plants that I didn't know before. Not only how to identify natives but also how they work together, what environments they grow best in and how they benefit the ecosystem as a whole. It provided a clear "big picture" for me and a deeper understanding of the importance of native plants."
"The program has encouraged me to take on volunteer projects that, frankly, I would never have considered myself capable of prior to training."
"The WNPS Stewardship Program provided the impetus for starting Heron Habitat Helpers."
"Most of all the program has provided me with an outlet for my boundless enthusiasm about the natural world."
The Program's History
The Program was started in 1996 by the Central Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) and Washington State University Cooperative Extension, King County. Since it began, funding has come from many sources, including the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team, King County Water Quality Block Grant, USDA Forest Service, Starflower Foundation, King County Waterworks, the Puget Sound Urban Resources Partnership, Natural Resource Stewardship Network, the Seattle Foundation, Snohomish County Surface Water Management, the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, the King Conservation District and the cities of Seattle, Issaquah, Kirkland, Sammamish, Bellevue and Redmond. The generous support of WNPS members has sustained it.
Starting in 2000, the Program expanded to include two training classes, one in King County and one in Snohomish County. In 2006 and 2009 we offered the program in Pierce County.
In celebration of its 20th year anniversary in 2016, the WNPS Stewardship Program announced the expansion of the program statewide. The program structure also was modified to elevate the traditional 100 hour training program to a Master Native Plant Steward Program and the Native Plant Stewardship Program will be reserved for program options requiring fewer training hours. In 2015 we set the goal of providing stewardship training opportunities across the state. Under this new initiative, classes are scheduled in Tacoma, Wenatchee, and White Salmon in 2016. Programs will be offered in additional areas in 2017.
The opportunity to extend the WNPS native plant stewardship statewide was made possible by a very gererous gift from Jane and John Titland.
At the end of 2015, 24 training classes have been completed with 562 steward graduates who have contributed more than 145,000 volunteer hours to their local communities and statewide native plant and native plant habitat conservation, education, advocacy projects.
The Program is administered by the Washington Native Plant Society Stewrdship Steering Committee with the assistance and technical support of non-profit organizations, local government agencies, scientists, and previous native plant stewards in local chapters.
A great opportunity to develop your knowledge and have a positive effect on your community.
Volunteers who want to learn about native plants so they can restore and protect natural habitats in and around their communities are encouraged to apply for a program near you. The programs are free in exchange for volunteer commitment in conservation and habitat restoration in hours of service equal to hours of training.
For more information call or e-mail:
Washington Native Plant Society
6310 NE 74th Street, Suite 215 E
Seattle, WA 98115
How you can help
- Donate generously to the program.
- Contribute expertise to stewards' training.
- Provide continuing education for stewards.
- Volunteer for Stewardship projects.
- Raise public awareness of the program and the Washington Native Plant Society.
The Native Plant Stewardship Program educates community volunteers about our region’s native plants and plant communities, and teaches how to use this knowledge to protect and restore Washington’s natural ecosystems.