Blue River Watershed Association
P.O. Box 7276
Kansas City MO 64113
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 462-5199
Mission Statement
The Blue River Watershed Association's mission is to restore and protect watersheds through environmental education, community outreach, partnerships, and collaboration.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Lynn Youngblood
Board Chair Ms. Jennifer Taylor
Board Chair Company Affiliation Burns & McDonnell
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1997
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer
There are many ways you can support Blue River Watershed Association (BRWA) and its environmental work throughout the Metro Area. Check out the website and donate through the easy system - better yet, make it a recurring donation $50/month (for a year) which sponsors an entire classroom with BRWA's banner E-STEM program T.R.U.E. Blue (Teaching Rivers in an Urban Environment). This 4-day, 4-lesson program takes students to the river where they conduct water quality tests. For many, this becomes a life-changing experience. OR, donate through this website, mail a check, or volunteer!  There is a volunteer tab at with more information regarding  opportunities. Thank you!
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement The Blue River Watershed Association's mission is to restore and protect watersheds through environmental education, community outreach, partnerships, and collaboration.
Background Statement

Blue River Watershed Association began in 1997 as the brainchild of teacher Jim Benz. With the aid of a Christa McAuliffe grant, Mr. Benz developed a unique, activity-based curriculum to educate school students about the negative impact of pollution on urban streams and rivers. Designated the "T.R.U.E. Blue Project" this curriculum has since been used to educate more than 100,000 students (5-12) in public and private schools across the Metropolitan Area. Since its inception in 1997, BRWA has expanded its educational activities to include “Benthic Macroinvertebrate” curriculum, Eco-Kids Club, Water Festivals, Recycled Art Fair, CPR: Communities Protecting Rivers, and adult education programs. BRWA has broadened its scope and mission to include implementation of demonstration projects designed to address pollution from storm water runoff in the Metro Area. BRWA has also spent significant resources in the development of community partnerships designed to inform and assist local political jurisdictions with strategies to protect, conserve and restore natural resources with a focus on water quality improvement. The Blue River Watershed encompasses all of the land that drains into the Blue River, which includes more than 270 square miles within the Kansas City metropolitan area, on both sides of the state line. Most of the bigger streams and rivers in Kansas City, including Tomahawk Creek, Indian Creek and Brush Creek, lie within the Blue River Watershed. Over 1 million people live, work and play in the Blue River Watershed. Yet, BRWA works in all watersheds in five counties on both sides of the state line throughout the Metro Area, not just the Blue River. 

Impact Statement

Blue River Watershed Association experienced both program growth and public recognition for over twenty years. BRWA's flagship water quality education program, T.R.U.E. Blue (Teaching Rivers in an Urban Environment) reaching over 5,000 students across the metro, annually. Likewise, participation in BRWA's KC Clean Streams program grows to over 5,500 students, 85 teachers, and 200 community volunteers who participate in this trash clean-up effort that typically collects over 5,000 bags of trash, annually. BRWA has grown exponentially over the last few years; being awarded large grants over $150,000 for water quality education. Additionally, its efforts in community outreach have blossomed, assisting communities identify, cleanup, and repurpose vacant lots. Not only does BRWA assist in these cleanup efforts, but supply the communities with the needed funds, as well. Communities realize an increase in home values, beautification, and safety, and stormwater runoff is decreased into the nearby Blue River. This is achieved through grants and corporate partnerships. 

Needs Statement
  1. Assistance with short and long-term funding 
  2. Volunteer assistance with programs in the field
Service Categories
Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation & Management
Secondary & High Schools
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
Geographic Area Served Narrative Blue River Watershed Association covers the entire Kansas City Metropolitan Area on both sides of the state line, and in five counties.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement Blue River Watershed Association has made great progress in the past few years, gaining in public visibility and in credibility among professionals in watershed planning and management, as well as the political officials throughout the Metro. BRWA was the first water quality nonprofit in Kansas City, and although there are others now they all stem from BRWA, either through former board members or staff. BRWA is the original! BRWA's schools-based water quality education programs are on the cutting edge and considered E-STEM (Environmental Science Technology Engineering & Math). Only BRWA offers all elements in its T.R.U.E. Blue curriculum. More teachers request the programs than the organization can serve. Funding needs remain a challenge, as BRWA's mission and programs often don't fit traditional philanthropic frameworks. However, BRWA's Board and staff are working diligently on a realistic, long-term funding strategy.
T.R.U.E. Blue (Teaching Rivers in an Urban Environment) is a watershed literacy program for 6-12 grade students. This 4-day, 4-lesson program is provided at no-cost to schools.
T.R.U.E. Blue begins in the classroom where BRWA staff teaches students watersheds, the impacts of stormwater runoff, chemical pollutants, impervious & pervious surfaces, etc. In Lesson 2, students are trained to perform 10 chemical tests to determine water quality. Students are taught proper safety and testing protocols.
Lesson 3 is at a river. Students conduct water quality tests. Many of the underserved students in which BRWA focuses have never been to a river previously, and this field lesson becomes a life-changing experience. BRWA staff assist students with how to analyze the collected data in Lesson 4. Using charts, graphs, and calculators, students take the raw data collected at the river and turn it into data results to determine the Water Quality Index number for that river, on that day and time.
Program Budget $600.00
Category Environment, General/Other Watershed Conservation
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years), Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
Working with T.R.U.E. Blue Adult Mentors will raise students’ awareness of environmental career opportunities the environmental field and begin working toward that goal.
Students move from awareness to action and decide what they can do to improve water quality: picking up pet waste, talking to parents about reducing amount of fertilizer, recycling at home, picking up trash at home, parks, streets, sidewalks, etc.
Students will use computer networks, including the BRWA website, to share and interpret water quality data from other students across the watershed.
Long-Term Success
Students will become responsible citizens and consumers, so that their voting and purchasing decisions help to improve water quality.
Students will gain an understanding and appreciation of the complex role government and other agencies play in improving water quality.
Teachers and students locate, assess, and identify a way to work toward the solution of at least one relevant water issue in their watershed.
Program Success Monitored By Prior to participating in T.R.U.E. Blue, recruited teachers will be given a pre-assessment survey. This survey will be used to determine their knowledge and behaviors concerning water quality and water quality issues in their watershed. The same survey will be given at the end of T.R.U.E. Blue in order to establish qualitative and quantitative changes. The same survey will also be given to students before and after they participate in the TRUE Blue. It is expected that the program will increase not only the knowledge level of the participants, but will also promote positive behavior changes and deepen the commitment to voluntarily participate in water quality improvement activities.
Examples of Program Success
T.R.U.E. Blue curriculum has been taught in hundreds schools throughout the watershed since 1997, reaching over 100,000 students. More than 80% of participating schools have implemented the T.R.U.E. Blue curriculum for more than 3 years.
BRWA currently has more teachers interested in its T.R.U.E. Blue program than it has funding to serve. Teacher feedback, gathered verbally and through surveys, indicates overwhelming positive response to the T.R.U.E. Blue program.
CPR: Communities Protecting Rivers is a program designed to meet Community Outreach goals of BRWA's mission.  Potential communities near a river are targeted. Through corporate or grant funding, BRWA assists communities in identifying vacant lots,  cleaning up and repurposing the lots into native plantings, rain gardens, orchards, and natural playgrounds. Unlike similar projects, CPR provides funds for residents to realize results.  
BRWA subawards other nonprofit partners such as Urban Rangers, to assist project communities in these efforts. BRWA calls on its network of municipal, for-profit, and nonprofit partners to assist in CPR. 
CPR's end result is complete transformation of a community. By removing dumpsites, overgrown vegetation, and at times vacant homes communities are re-vitalized and invigorated to continue in its healing and progress. Home values increase, communities become safe, and more livable; and, stormwater runoff entering the nearby river is reduced.
Program Budget $25,000.00
Category Environment, General/Other Watershed Conservation
Population Served Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success An organized group of stakeholders with the resources and skills needed to develop a watershed management strategy for the Blue River Watershed.
Long-Term Success Significant reduction in water pollution within the Blue River Watershed; Significant capital expenditure on infrastructure upgrades and deferred maintenance on aging sewer systems within the metro area; long-term policy and planning initiatives designed to address development and redevelopment within the metro area in a sustainable manner that results in increased quality of life for all within our community.
Program Success Monitored By Stakeholder participation in planning meetings; surveys; stakeholder resources pledged to watershed management.
Examples of Program Success
Increase and faster sales of homes in the communities.
Increase of resident participation in community events and activities.
Maintenance of lots by residents.
Children playing outside in repurposed lots rather than watching TV, as reported by residents. 
Eco-Kids Club is an 8-session after-school program designed for students in Grades 3rd-5th. This hands-on, experiential environmental learning program highlights for students topics such as watersheds, stormwater runoff, causes of water pollution, chemical pollution, and point and non-point pollution.
All sessions are taught by BRWA educators. 
Program Budget $5,000.00
Category Environment, General/Other Watershed Conservation
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success Students move from awareness to action and persuade parents to recycle, not to throw trash out of car windows, pick up after their pet, pickup trash around their home, parks, etc. Many students report they do these very things.
Long-Term Success Students attain a love of the environment and become voters for environmental-friendly practices, enter environmental career fields, and choose to conduct their lives in an environmentally friendly manner (hybrid or electric car, recycling, picking up after pet waste, organic lawn fertilizer, etc.).
Program Success Monitored By
  • Pre and post assessments
  • Actions of students, self-reported
  • Comments from teacher/s
  • Number of students registering for class and remaining in class
Examples of Program Success
  • This program has a limit of 20 students, however is has become the most popular after-school program and the limit is often pushed to 28. After 4 years, enough students were on a waiting list to justify a second full class.
  • The program has now expanded to three additional schools.
Macros is fast becoming a favorite for both teachers and students in 5th Grades - High Schools. Macros teaches students about macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of water quality in local watersheds, classification and field identification skills, stormwater runoff, pollution, and the impacts that people have on aquatic species. 
Macros program leads students to employ critical thinking with a hands-on, experiential approach by using the presence, or absence, of macroinvertebrates (aquatic bugs, largely in the larval stage in shallow pools and riffles in streams, creeks, and rivers) to indicate clean or polluted water. This 2-day, 2-lesson program includes a classroom, and a riverside field session. Macros curriculum is current with Missouri and Kansas Science State Standards.
Program Budget $350.00
Category Environment, General/Other Waste Management
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
Students gain knowledge about macroinvertebrates and their important role in aquatics, ecosystems, and water quality. 
Students make life-choices at home including recycling, picking up after pets, and talking to parents about fertilizer use, etc.
Long-Term Success Students become passionate about the Earth, and become active voters for Earth-friendly laws and regulations. They enter environmental career fields, or volunteer for nonprofit, or for-profit organizations that support these fields and missions.
Program Success Monitored By
  • Students take a pre and post assessment and reflect learned knowledge and desire to do more for local streams and rivers.
  • Increase in Macros registrations.
  • Increase in repeat teachers from year-to-year.
Examples of Program Success BRWA recently began conducting Macros programming more heavily over the last three years, now over 90% repeat teachers are requesting Macros again. Macros is quickly becoming one of the most requested programs that BRWA offers.
Description KC Clean Streams is the largest school-led trash cleanup initiative in the Kansas City Metro Area. Each year participation has increased. Funding comes from local corporations, municipalities, conservation departments, and business owners. The first 1,000 participants get a free T-shirt. Typical participation is over 5,000 students, teachers, and parents, collecting trash near streams and rivers totally 800 bags, and 1,200 pounds!
Program Budget $12,000.00
Category Environment, General/Other Waste Management
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
  • Amount of litter collected each year;
  • teachers who participate for more than 1 year;
  • student understanding of non-point source water pollution;
  • the negative impact of litter on water quality.
Long-Term Success
  • Reduced trash and litter found within the local watersheds;
  • improved water quality in streams within the watersheds.
Program Success Monitored By
  • Surveys from participants;
  • Number of repeat teachers annually;
  • Amount of trash collected annually.
Examples of Program Success
  • Increase in school and student participation with more than 5,000 students registered to pick up litter in and around creeks and streams.
  • Increase in local corporations, municipalities, conservation departments, and business owners all participate and contribute funding.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Lynn Youngblood
Term Start Sept 2013

Blue River Watershed Association (2013 – Present)
Executive Director
Responsible for all executive duties of organization including grant writing, fundraising, community liaison, agency representative, cultivating relationships, collaborating with partners, project coordination.

University of Missouri, Kansas City; Lindenwood University & other Universities (2008 - Present)
Adjunct Professor
Teach certified courses, graduate and undergraduate level.

Catholic Charities of KC-St. Joe (2007 – 2013)
Program Manager, Project Rise (2011 – 2013)
Administer multi-million dollar, multi-year federal grant working with disengaged, transitional-aged, low-income youth.

Program Manager, Concepts for Effective Services (2007 – 2011)
Administered two multi-million dollar, multi-year capacity building federal grants working with nonprofits. Served a total of 100 nonprofits in fifteen counties, serving between 20 - 30 agencies over 6 - 12-month Cycles. At the end of the first grant, 59 agencies reported raising over an additional $6.5 million and over 100,000 more people were served after first year of program. Results constituted 60% of the total outcomes for the primary recipients in the United States. Supervised two different staffs in 2 cities. Organized and conducted over 50 training sessions annually in three different metro cities for nonprofit executives.

Burr Oak Woods Nature Center (1990 – 2007)
Missouri Department of Conservation
Oversaw all operations for Nature Center, citizen scientist programs, supervision, guest services, community relations,  management of wildlife and 1,000 acres of conservation land. Supervised supervisory staff, and provided indirect supervision of  additional staff, over 50 active volunteers, and 300 event volunteers. Collaborated with Department Fish, Forestry, Wildlife, Operations, and other Division staff, as well as City, County, State, and Federal conservation, fisheries, wildlife, and civil services.

Extensive work with Special Needs Audiences 
Senior Staff
Title Project Manager
Blue River Watershed Association (2016 - Present)
Project Manager 
Responsible for assisting in conducting all grant project & programs, supervision of education staff, scheduling programs & staff.
Spofford (Genesis School) (2014 - 2016)
Family Resource Specialist
Worked with underserved families, students, and staff to identify needs and make appropriate community referrals in this Charter School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Catholic Charities KC - St. Joe (2010 - 2014)
Held several grant sponsored managerial positions in case management. 
AdHoc Against Crime (2008 - 2010) 
Responsible for all operations for this City-wide high-profile crime-fighting nonprofit including, grant writing, supervision, payroll, community liaison, budget management, reporting and record keeping for Board of Directors and other governing entities, dissemination of marketing, fundraising, and promotional materials, etc.
Paid Full-Time Staff 1
Paid Part-Time Staff 9
Paid Contractors 0
Volunteers 200
Retention Rate 95%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 2
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 8
Male 2
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Johnson County KS Stormwater Advisory Council; KCMO Water Services Blue River Panel; MidAmerica Regional Council (MARC) Water Quality Education Committee; Kansas City Environmental Education Network (KCEEN); Brush Creek Coordinating Committee; Stream Teams United; Bridging the Gap; Heartland Conservation Alliance; National Fish & Wildlife Foundation; National Wildlife Refuge System; Urban Rangers; KC Parks + Rec; Jackson County Rec + Parks; Clay County, MO; Unified Government of Wyandotte, KS; Overland Park, KS: Olathe, KS; Lenexa, KS; Cargill, Inc; General Motors; Honeywell; Burns & McDonnell; Tetra Tech; TREKK; HNTB; HDR; Terracon Consultants; YMCA; CDM; Compass Minerals; Olsson Foundation; University of MO, Kansas City (UMKC); Metropolitan Community College (MCC) Maple Woods; Engineers Without Borders; EarthForce; US Geological Survey (USGS); Vireo; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); GreenWorksKC; Friends of the KAW; Little Blue River Watershed Coalition; Missouri Master Naturalists; RevolveKC; Trailside Center; Western Sni-A-Bar Watershed Consortium; American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); Shockey Consulting
American Rivers2019
American Rivers2018
River Network2019
River Network2018
River Network2017
River Network2016
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2019
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2018
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2017
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2016
Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City2015
Environmental Education Expert Award (Inaugural)Urban Waters Learning Network2017
Education Award - SilverKansas City Industrial Council (KCIC)2016
Outstanding Non-Profit Environmental Education OrganizationKansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education2011
2005 Stream Team Award for Adult LeadershipMissouri Department of Conservation2005
Missouri Environmental Education Association Award for Outstanding ServiceMo Environmental Education Assoc.2004
David Garcia Award for Environmental ExcellenceBridging the Gap2003
2003 Stream Team Achievement Award for Adult LeadershipMissouri Department of Conservation2003
Kanza Group Sierra Club Award for Environmental EducationSierra Club2003
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments Blue River Watershed Association is, and has been successful, due to the incredible passion and tenacity of the staff and Board of Directors. BRWA could not accomplish what has been done without the support and continued collaboration of its incredible partners and collaborators. Kansas City is unique for its people who are willing to jump in, get dirty, and get the job done! BRWA is thankful!
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms. Jennifer Taylor
Company Affiliation Burns & McDonnell
Term Mar 2016 to Jan 2021
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Mr. Cale Wilson
Company Affiliation Terracon
Term June 2017 to June 2020
Board Members
Ms. Ann DeAngeloWomen's Business Dev. Ctr.
Mr. Jeff DoudrickHNTB
Mr. Blake KogerCerner
Ms. Claudine LambMissouri Department of Conservation
Mr. Todd McCabeAECOM
Ms. Hannah McSpaddenEdward D. Jones
Mr. Ryan MurdockCargill
Ms. Jennifer TaylorBurns & McDonnell
Mr. Josh TinkeyTREKK
Ms. Stephanie ValenciaHigh School Teacher
Mr. Cale WilsonTerracon
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 9
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 5
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 70%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
CEO Comments BRWA continues to develop board members and strives for board diversity. With decreases in available government funding, BRWA has been developing a new business plan and funding strategy. The board is motivated and poised to work with new funders and grantors, as well as working with a diversity of people.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $288,239
Projected Expenses $279,273
Endowment Value $0
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage 0
Form 990s
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990. 
  • FY 2015: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990-EZ. 
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals. 
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$57,875$53,519$0
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$0$0$0
Membership Dues------
Special Events$10,057$10,385($1,429)
Revenue In-Kind$9,491$5,735--
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$116,206$101,395$87,405
Administration Expense$60,178$30,839$23,173
Fundraising Expense$19,165$16,691$142
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.011.601.37
Program Expense/Total Expenses59%68%79%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$150,799$146,974$56,445
Current Assets$138,974$146,974$56,445
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$6,755$3,925$2,179
Total Net Assets$144,044$143,049$54,266
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities20.5737.4525.90
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Goal $0.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments In the last five years, Blue River Watershed Association has become more financial solid than ever before. This has resulted in replacing aging equipment, investing in state-of-the-art E-STEM water quality testing equipment such as test probes, and tripling the number of staff in order to conduct more programs throughout the Metro Area. Larger and more complicated grants and contracts have been awarded, also enabling the ability to increase higher level staff and salaries. However, programming need remains as more schools, principals, and teachers contact BRWA wanting programs - funding for these programs is a constant need.
Other Documents
Missouri Tax Exempt Letter2050View
Kansas: Nonprofit in Good Standing2030View
BRWA Donor Brochure2020View
Annual Report2017View
Organization Name Blue River Watershed Association
Address P.O. Box 7276
Kansas City, MO 64113
Primary Phone (816) 462-5199
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Lynn Youngblood
Board Chair Ms. Jennifer Taylor
Board Chair Company Affiliation Burns & McDonnell
Year of Incorporation 1997