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Basic Information

The Watershed Academy's Distance Learning Program—Watershed Academy Web—is a set of self-paced training modules that represents a basic but broad introduction to watershed management. This program's goal is to provide useful information to local and state/tribal efforts aimed at improving the health of our Nation's waters by protecting and managing their watersheds.

These training modules cover the most important watershed management topics, about which watershed managers, local officials, involved citizens, decision makers, and others should have at least an introductory level of knowledge. Web modules resemble interactive guest lectures by leaders in watershed management. Unlike an average technical paper, many modules are visually rich and contain 25 to 50 color illustrations and photos. A module typically contains many links for those seeking greater detail, while module-specific glossaries are there for beginners. Self-tests enable trainees to check their retention and see immediate results.

The length and complexity of each module varies, but most are at the college freshman level of instruction and require a ½ hour to 2 hours each to complete. Completing a series of 15 of these modules earns the Watershed Academy Web Training Certificate.

Developing the Watershed Academy Web Program

The nationwide demand for watershed training far exceeds its availability. Since the USEPA's Watershed Academy began watershed training in 1994, its live courses have been consistently overfilled. Live courses are the most common training medium, but a limited budget can only support a small number of classes. Through the Internet, the Watershed Academy can reach many times more people with similar watershed training information based on its courses. As a training medium, the Internet has the following strengths:

How the Training is Organized

The multiple disciplines covered in the Watershed Academy Web modules are grouped into six watershed training themes (below) that were selected by watershed practitioners from local and state governments, federal agencies, and universities:

Module Styles

There are three basic variations on module design:

1. Frames-based modules
2. Stepping Stone modules
3. Modules Outside Watershed Academy

Alternately the user may download a Portable Document Format (pdf) version of the module and browse through it from a local computer. A full listing of the PDF versions of the modules can be found under the sidebar link: PDF Print-Friendly versions

    1. Frames-based modules

    These modules are similar to interactive slide presentations. Each page consists of a top frame with navigation tools, a left frame showing slides and illustrations, and a right frame with instructional text. The top frame offers navigational controls. The right and left frames change as the user progresses through the module.

    Image of a frames-based module layout on the computer screen

    2. Stepping Stone modules

    These modules begin with a front page hosted by Watershed Academy Web. This is a stepping stone page, which summarizes the module and links to the actual module hosted by a non-Academy or non-EPA training Web site.

    3. Modules Outside Watershed Academy

    Some modules are hosted by EPA sites outside the Office of Water's Watershed Academy Web site. These modules are opened directly from the listing on the Watershed Academy Web, however, they open in a new browser window. To return to the Watershed Academy Web simply switch browser windows, or close the new window.

About the Watershed Academy

The Watershed Academy was started by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water in 1994 to provide training courses and educational materials on the fundamentals of a watershed approach. Our target audience includes local, state, tribal, and federal officials as well as citizens and private practitioners of watershed management. The Watershed Academy has four main components:

Viewing PDF

All PDF versions of the modules can be viewed with a plug-in application called Adobe Acrobat Reader Exit EPA Disclaimer that can be downloaded for free to your computer from the Internet. An Adobe Acrobat plug-in for assisted technologies is also available.


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