Calvin College is the initiator of the Plaster Creek Stewards group. Part of our campus occupies space in the Plaster Creek watershed, and more than half of our faculty and staff live within the watershed. The Calvin Biology Department, the Office of Community Engagement, the Calvin Environmental Assessment Program (CEAP), Science Education Program, the Education Department, and the Geology, Geography, and Environmental Studies Department are particularly involved in work on Plaster Creek.
Trout Unlimited, Rogue River
Since 1959, Trout Unlimited has become the nation’s largest grassroots coldwater conservation organization with a mission to conserve, protect and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. TU Rogue River collaborates each summer with the Plaster Creek Stewards Green Team. Each watershed group hires 8 students from their watershed to learn and impliment green infrastructure practices to gain job skills and increase college awareness. The Rogue River team hosts and visits the Plaster Creek Green Team regularly for education and restoration work.
Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW)
LGROW serves as an umbrella organization for sub-watershed groups throughout the Lower Grand River. These include Plaster Creek, Buck and Sand Creeks, and the Rogue, Thornapple, and Coldwater Rivers. Their Grand River Rainscaping site serves as a helpful tool to educate and connect homeowners interested in green infrastructure with watershed organizations and contractors.
Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA)
The Christian Reformed Church national headquarters is found close to the banks of Plaster Creek and the Christian Reformed Recreation Center which includes a golf course and ball fields also lies adjacent to the Creek. The Plaster Creek watershed is home to 40 percent of Christian Reformed Church households in the Grand Rapids area (2,400 households).
Watershed Faith Communities
Several churches located within the watershed are involved. Representatives from these churches attend our summer workshop and spring and fall events, and several have developed a church action plan for stewardship efforts related to the watershed. Some of the churches that are currently involved include Woodlawn CRC, Alger Park CRC, Christ Church, Church of the Servant, Madison Square Church, Islamic Center and Mosque, Sherman Street CRC, Hope Reformed Church and Oakdale CRC.
West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC)
The West Michigan Environmental Action Council was founded in 1968 as the first large environmental council in Michigan, representing such diverse associations as churches, parent teacher groups, businesses, men's clubs, student groups, women's groups, labor associations and conservation organizations. Its work ranges from its Adopt-A-Stream program to involvement in mass transit, to being an important player in the development of the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council.
Kent Conservation District
The mission of the Kent Conservation District is to advocate, teach, promote, and facilitate those practices which protect, conserve, enhance, and restore our natural resources for the citizens of Kent County and future generations.
We work with schools in the watershed, giving educational presentations about the creek and planting rain gardens and butterfly gardens on school grounds. Schools that have been involved include Ken-O-Sha School, Potter's House Elementary, Evergreen Christian School, Dutton Christian School, Dutton Elementary, New Branches Elementary, Forest Hills Northern Trails Middle, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, and Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Other community partners
Plaster Creek Stewards is partnering with a growing list of businesses, organizations, and government agencies and departments. Some of these include the River City Wild Ones, Pioneer Construction, Inc., Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, the Grand Rapids Parks Department, Kent County Parks Department, and Groundswell, which creates hands-on environmental learning opportunities for 6th – 12th grade students.
In 2004, representatives from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), Calvin College, and the Christian Reformed Church met to discuss a plan to address the problems and the potential of Plaster Creek. This group evolved into the Plaster Creek Working Group (PCWG). An offshoot of this effort, the Plaster Creek Stewards, included area churches interested in restoring the Plaster Creek Watershed. As these efforts matured, we have re-named the entire effort ‘Plaster Creek Stewards’ to avoid confusion and to include the work of all of these groups under the same name.