Nonprofit Spotlight

Nonprofit Spotlight




The St. Mary's River Watershed Association (SMRWA) is a nonprofit that seeks to protect, improve, and promote the sustainability of the St. Mary’s River Watershed through the collaborative efforts of stakeholders in the community. It also aims to create a beneficial relationship between the St. Mary’s River and the communities existing within the watershed. The organization partners with over 50 institutions to create solutions that benefit the watershed and the community’s health. Additionally, the SMRWA fulfills its mission by implementing educational, outreach, and restoration programs. The programs include the restoration of nine acres of oyster habitat, the monitoring of river water quality with volunteer help, and the mentoring of youth through the Future Bay Leaders program.




The St. Mary’s River Watershed includes almost a quarter of St. Mary’s County and nearly half of the population lives within it. The watershed consists of over 100 miles of streams in 16 sub-watersheds, which drain into the St. Mary’s River and in turn the tidal estuary that empties into the Potomac River. Intensive development in Lexington Park and along Route 235 may threaten the area’s environmental health without appropriate management.




The environmental organization’s history began in 2002, when the St. Mary’s River Project (SMRP) led by St. Mary’s College of Maryland had collected three years’ worth of data on the St. Mary’s River. The data showed that some areas of the river and its watershed were in poor condition. However, the SMRP’s framework did not provide a way for community members to use the data for restoration and education efforts. The nonprofit was established when members of the SMRP and the community gathered to fill this need. The organization later received its 501(c)(3) status in 2006.




Recently, the SMRWA has made significant achievements that positively impacted the watershed and the community. During the past two years, the organization and the community planted 1 million oysters in Breton Bay. This effort led to oyster reproduction being recorded there for the first time in two decades. Last year, over 650 volunteers participated in environmental stewardship initiatives. Nonprofit members and volunteers also planted 1.5 million baby oysters on 2.5 acres to the west of Horseshoe Point during the summer. Additionally, the SMRWA hosted five students in its Future Bay Leaders program last year. Two students were Great Mills High School STEM students who completed their STEM capstones and 100 hours of service with the nonprofit.




The organization invites nonprofits to exhibit at its annual RiverFest, which will be held on Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Historic St. Mary’s City. RiverFest is a community event that celebrates the beauty and serenity of the St. Mary’s River. The event also provides information on ways to protect, improve, and promote the sustainability of the river and its surrounding lands through various entertaining and educational activities and exhibits. Nonprofits may email Emma Green at if they would like to attend.

The nonprofit’s work is funded by public memberships where people make monthly tax-deductible donations. Donors can choose how much they give via PayPal or through writing and mailing checks.

For more information, visit the nonprofit's website or Facebook page.

The information used in this article was collected from Emma Green, the executive director of the SMRWA, and the nonprofit's website.

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Nonprofit Institute
College of Southern Maryland
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La Plata, MD 20646-0910

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