Lisa Meranti likes to say, “Spread the message downstream.” She’s been with the Cleveland Metroparks for a more than three years as the Watershed Stewardship Program coordinator. The stewardship program is a type of citizen science — it combines education programs about the watershed along learning how to reach out to the community and get others involved.
“So we try to give education opportunities, one for our volunteers to keep enriching and learning. When we say watershed, what does that mean and what does that entail? Which has a lot of different things,” Meranti said. “We don’t just look at water — we look at all that is in those ecosystems. And then we also try to facilitate our volunteers to share that knowledge with others.”
The opportunities include water monitoring, restoration projects and working with infrastructure.
But Meranti’s job doesn’t just apply to the Cleveland Metroparks.
“It’s working with different watershed groups in Northeast Ohio to help kind of facilitate those connections between volunteers and the needs done. And of course, when I started (in the program), it has grown since then. And I think that’s because of the relationships that I have built with some of them. And then the reputation of the watershed volunteer program grew,” Meranti said.
Although the program started in 2012, it focused mainly on infrastructure. Meranti helped facilitate the conversation and make it more community based along with many others at the watershed.
At a young age, Meranti knew she wanted to work with the environment in some way. She focused on biology, chemistry and water quality in college, and then continued on to graduate school for environmental studies.
She doesn’t do a whole lot when it comes to the “science” as the metroparks, meaning running different tests. But she said that’s OK because “I work with amazing colleagues who are such experts in all these different realms of the sciences.”
Meranti said the best part of her job is simply connecting people to resources and helping them learn more about the environment in their very own community.
“It’s really the pleasure that I ultimately get (from) connecting people with the resources. And that could be the volunteers that we get to interact with, but also the colleagues that I get to meet within Cleveland Metroparks, within the Northeast Ohio regional sewer district, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Summit Metroparks,” she said. ” … It’s so amazing, and it’s such a privilege for me to be able to do this work and to be in this partnership with our volunteers, with our colleagues, with all these different organizations.”