Approximately 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and more are moving in each year. Every day, those 18 million people make decisions that affect the Bay’s health. Without the active participation of these residents, our restoration efforts will be unsuccessful.

So, how active and engaged are the residents of the Bay watershed? The Citizen Stewardship Index was created in 2017 to measure just that. It is the first comprehensive survey of residential stewardship actions and attitudes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The data presents a powerful resource for agencies and organizations working to foster stewardship, whether it is informing programs that seek to increase the adoption of individual actions, volunteerism and collective action, or local leaders who mobilize others.

Generated from a random probability sample of 5,200 Chesapeake Bay watershed residents, conducted by telephone, the index measured 19 individual stewardship behaviors, likelihood to perform those behaviors in the future, volunteerism, civic engagement, and attitudes and perceptions that impact personal stewardship. The stewardship index will be fielded again in 2021 to measure progress.

While you can access the raw data and more background about the Citizen Stewardship Indicator on Chesapeake Progress, you will soon be able to explore and manipulate the data through an interactive website.

Citizen stewardship is vitally important to enhance the health of local watersheds and the Bay as a whole. The Chesapeake Bay Program developed the Stewardship Index, which examines citizen stewardship within the categories of Behavior, Volunteerism, and Civic Engagement. We are planning to include this index in the report card scoring in future years.

Citizens pick up trash. Photo by Will Parson, Chesapeake Bay Program.