Watershed Specialist Training Program

The Watershed Specialist Training (WST) program delivers an online training course for current and aspiring water resource professionals and supports ongoing networking among alumni. The program aspires to continually build capacity to address Minnesota’s water resource challenges. The course is online, interactive, and 14 weeks long. Six to eight hours of work is required each week. No travel is needed, and yet you learn from colleagues around the state and from topic experts.

Minnesota Watershed Specialist Training is for professionals

  • Dedicated to improving and protecting water resources.
  • To strengthen their ability to integrate technical, policy, and social science aspects of water issues for effective water restoration and protection.
  • To share experiences with other water resource professionals around the state.
  • To show potential employers their high level of professional skills and an understanding of watershed science in a political and social context.
  • Who work in rural or urban settings, large or small offices.

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The course is designed for local government staff who are currently or anticipate coordinating, managing, planning or leading activities to restore or protect water resources. The course is also suitable for private consultants and non-profit organizations who work with local governments, and for students near the end of their degree program. Educational background may be in any natural resource, technical, or social science discipline.


Syllabus (PDF)

The course has seven modules:

  • Institutions and Policy
  • Watershed Science
  • Civic Engagement
  • Communications
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Monitoring
  • Implementation Activities
  • Project and Program Implementation

The activities for each module have three goals:

  1. Describe the scope of the topic, showing how it integrates with other aspects of water resource work.
  2. Build skills that can be applied immediately.
  3. Provide resources and foundational knowledge to support future learning.

The experts behind the program

The course was developed by a team of water resource management veterans from Watershed Districts, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the University of Minnesota, the Pollution Control Agency, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.


The program relies on diverse partners from local and state agencies, and is led by the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center.

Funding is from participant fees and in-kind support from partners including: 

Development and delivery of the first two sessions were funded primarily by the Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Program.