The Watershed Project

Project Design Lab

July 2021

The watershed is the web of life.

It is an interdependent network of natural systems that require nurturing in order to thrive. 

How can understanding the watershed help us to build a more thriving web of life in our schools and communities? 

The goal of The Watershed Project is to deepen our understanding and sense of ownership in the health of the watershed, and how the health of the watershed is interwoven with the health of our communities.


The project is limited to six schools on a first-come-first-served basis..


Schools may join The Watershed Project by forming a team of at least three teachers/staff to attend the Project Design Lab, via ZOOM, in the fall.


At the Project Design Lab, your team will co-create an arts-integrated curriculum project alongside master teaching artists and national leaders in project-based learning and creativity.

Teachers receive three graduate credits or a certificate for 35 professional development hours.

Each school team* will receive:

  • Two teaching artist residencies (remote and in the community), 12 days total (visual art and photography/videography).

  • Outdoor Energy Teaching Partner Workshops and consultations on science and climate change integration, provided by VEEP (Vermont Energy Education Program).

  • Outdoor workshops on the watershed led by Friends of the Winooski River or Friends of the Mad River.

  • Staff support to develop community partners for your project.

  • PR/media and production support for your project's culminating event.

*Teams must consist of three or more teachers/staff. 

Photo: Ember Photography

What to Expect

The Project Design Lab is an experience in collaborative and creative planning and learning.

Creative Collaboration

  • Collaborate with two teaching artists (visual arts and photography/videography), plus outdoor educators who work with your team to co-design your project.


Foundations of Creative Learning

  • Develop authentic ways to model creative learning with your students, through your classroom and with your colleagues through hands-on creative engagement throughout the week.


Teaching & Assessing Transferable Skills

  • Strengthen your understanding of the skills inside the creative process and techniques for teaching and assessing your students’ creative capacities.  

Climate Change 

  • Feature climate challenges to the watershed as a key component of your project.

UbD - Understanding by Design

  • Leverage the project’s essential question – How can understanding the watershed help us to build a more thriving web of life in our schools and communities? – to map your projects’s enduring and desired understandings. 

Backward Design – Authentic Reflection – Scaffolding Skills

  • Learn best practices with national leaders in the fields of project- and inquiry-based learning. 



(Vermont Energy Education Program)

Friends of the Winooski River

Friends of the Mad River

ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain


"This has been the best professional development in my 27-year teaching career. The faculty was amazing."


$2,050 per person for three graduate credits.

$1,750 for non-credit (35 professional development hours).


Email Community Engagement Lab Partnerships Manager Claire Tebbs. 


More questions about how the Project Design Lab works? Visit the FAQ page.


Alissa Faber

Alissa is an artist, designer, and educator. She holds a bachelors in Fine Arts and has a background in arts-integrated school residencies and afterschool eduction. Faber graduated from Alfred University with a degree in sculpture and has worked in glass and ceramic studios across the country. Much of her work is directly influenced by teachable moments and student questions. Alissa's sculptures and installations are about interacting with each material so viewers can see the fluidity of hot glass, feel the texture of clay or see the vibrancy in natural materials. 

Renee Greenlee

Renee began her career in the nonprofit sector after receiving her Masters degrees in both Communication and Theology. She then created and managed programs for low-income communities, photographing the people and places impacted by these services. After completing an intensive photography program, she shifted to making work and teaching photography full time. She envisions the practice of photography as communication; a dialogue between light, memory and the meaning of making an image.


Harris and Frances Block Foundation


Lake Champlain Basin Program



41 Summer St.

Montpelier, VT 05602


Staff contact info 

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