Posts Tagged ‘volunteer training’

Make a Difference… Be a Scientist on Earth Day

Join a team of kids, teens, adults, and retirees during the River Roundup as you explore creeks and rivers.

Join a team of kids, teens, adults, and retirees during the River Roundup as you explore creeks and rivers.

Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and not accidentally, so does HRWC’s spring River Roundup.  Perhaps the idea of Earth Day may strike you as a little disheartening this year, in our current political climate of science and environmental budget cuts, and widespread doubt in scientific data.  Are we making a difference at all?  Or is our country reverting back to an era of rivers catching on fire?  What is so disheartening to me personally is not a looming Federal budget that will remove funding for the Great Lakes and environmental regulation (though that is terrible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not surprised by this), but to see so many people who agree with this course of action. Still, there is room for hope in our future, and that hopes lies in you—the many people who want clean water and clean land and who stand strong with HRWC to work for it.

Consider volunteering with us. Every participant makes an immediate difference at our local level.  HRWC volunteers collect scientific data in southeast Michigan, primarily in Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties. For the upcoming River Roundup on Earth Day, volunteers will be looking for aquatic insects that tell us about the health of the Huron River and its tributaries, and ultimately about the health of all the land that drains into the Huron.  This information gives HRWC the knowledge to conduct effective river management projects and the authority to speak  intelligently on water quality issues with local, state, and federal government, landowners, and  other decision-makers.

And in the process of collecting scientific data, HRWC volunteers are learning and teaching others.  It is always so exciting to see the adult HRWC volunteers interacting and teaching children, teens, and college students about river systems, insects, and the environment.  And in as many cases, to see the kids teaching the adults! This is the type of education that will create the long term cultural change needed in our country.

Make a difference locally by acting now to help HRWC collect scientific information that informs our management decisions and local policies; change the future by teaching the younger generation in the process. The River Roundup is on Earth Day, April 22.  Learn more about the River Roundup and register at

Conservation Stewards Leadership Training

indian springsLooking for a way to expand your knowledge about ecosystems, rx invasives, and the history of conservation in Michigan?

The Michigan Conservation Stewards program has been brought back to Washtenaw County by a collaboration of HRWC and peer organizations. We hope you, capsule as a supporter of the Huron, will take the opportunity to strengthen your knowledge and thus ability to advocate for our natural resources. This 6-week course covers all the basics of conservation, tadalafil introduces participants to a wide-array of topic experts, and is a great networking opportunity.


Click here for details and to register.



Being a Creekwalker (Part 2)

The adventure continues!

You can read Mark Schaller’s first post here about his experiences with HRWC’s Creekwalking Program.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at to volunteer.


Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Now that the initial visit and thermometer placement was out of the way it was time to schedule the second visit. Like our previous trip, real life issues came up for most of the team, and Erin and myself continued our team of two.

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

Mosquitos can be bad during a creekwalk, depending on the location and weather. Long pants and long sleeves may be a good idea! Right, Erin?

We decided that Erin would handle the writing duties while I took the reading and pictures. This time around we were supposed to check for signs of wildlife and pick up any garbage. After her last losing battle with mosquitoes Erin came prepared this time. Long sleeve shirts and real insect repellent were in order. She even sprayed me down to try to keep the bugs at bay. It didn’t work.

Woods Creek was pretty much in the same state as the last time we were here. We entered at the first bridge and got to work. We took a few temperature and water conductivity readings and not much had changed. Since I didn’t have to concentrate on the readings, I spent more time checking out what signs of life there were. Erin is more of an herbologist than I am so she kept track of the plant life. She was rattling off plant names and I just took her word for it. I’m not a vegetarian.

Like last time I spotted some smaller bait fish but couldn’t get a good enough look at them to see what they were. When we got to the water thermometers I saw some larger fish hiding underneath the stump but again I couldn’t get a good look to see what they were. What I did see were a lot of crayfish. These guys I was very interested in. I wanted to know if they were native crayfish or the non-native rusty variety.  For the rest of the walk I tried to catch one and for most of the walk my efforts were pretty futile. Just as I was about to grab one it would take off and disappear in the silt. Even with my advance warning system screaming every time one ran across her foot, I still couldn’t corner one long enough to grab it.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Mark had a good time catching and identifying crayfish on his creekwalk.

Eventually I caught one and it wasn’t a Rusty. So far so good. I was able to catch a couple more and they were all native crayfish as well. I don’t know what kind exactly, but they weren’t Rusty crayfish. I’m sure the Rusty’s will eventually work their way into this creek but for now no sign of them.

One of the other things we had to do during this trip was pick up garbage. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t much. I expected to find plastic worm containers, fish line, and empty cans. All I really found was some pieces of broken glass and an old shirt.  Nice to see that there wasn’t much trash!


Stayed tuned for the third and final part of Mark’s creekwalking experience.

Being a Creekwalker (Part 1)

 Scout and Walk a River

This past summer, several teams of volunteers participated in a new program: Creekwalking!

Mark Schaller was one of those volunteers, and he wrote about being a Creekwalker for the Downriver Walleye Federation newsletter, the fishing organization that he belongs to.  Mark has given HRWC his permission for us to reproduce his adventures here on our blog.

Are you interested in being a creekwalker? You can recruit your own family and friends to join you on your team or ask HRWC to assign you to a team. This year’s training is on June 10, 6:30- 8 pm. Check out this webpage and email Jason at to volunteer.


Mark Schaller tests the water in Woods Creek.

Mark tests the water in Woods Creek.

Guest Author: Mark Schaller

Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watershed Council. They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, Creek Walking. The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River. Since funds are tights for this kinds of field work they need volunteers. I volunteered!

I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was about. I was going to be part of a 5 person team that was assigned to Woods Creek. This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park. My team and I would be making visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters. Seems simple, right? Oh, was I in for a surprise.

I was worried about the water levels at this time as the prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardrous.  I stopped by two days prior to our field day and the water had dropped some. My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow the team to do the initial testing.

On our field day, myself and another teammate, Erin, were the only ones who were able to make it.  The two of us packed up the gear and headed to the stream. The water level was back down to normal so we waded in. After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots. Erin just waded in with what she was wearing. She soon found out that the all natural insect repellant that she was wearing didn’t do a thing for her. They attacked her in swarms. For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn't it?

Woods Creek in July! Looks nice, doesn’t it?

Part of our work was to take temperature and water conductivity readings. The meter that HRWC gave us takes both temperature and measures the ions in the stream.  Anything under a reading of 800 microsiemens meant that the water was clean and healthy. We had to take a reading every 30 feet and make it with GPS coordinates as well.All of our readings were around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and a conductivity of around 800. All seemed good. The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked. A good sign for all those Steelheaders out there. A staff member of HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.

Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife. We didn’t see any critters but did see lots of baitfish in the stream. As far as insects go, there were a lot of damselflies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry. She was was a little annoyed that I never got bit. Sometimes it’s good to be me.  She was a good sport about it though and offered to enter all our data into the spreadsheet we were given. I volunteered to go through the pictures and the file names and GPS coordinates to the datasheet.

Mission Accomplished! Our task for another day was to walk upstream in Woods Creek and continue the process.


Stayed tuned for part 2 of Mark’s creekwalking experience.






Lampyridae, Tabanidae, and Belostomatidae: OH MY!


Beware the Belostomatidae

Want to meet the Lions, Tigers, and Bears of the Huron?

We’re happy to show them off – but you’ll have to help us hunt them down! (Though ours are a tad smaller, as they are aquatic insects.)

Join us on Saturday, October 12 for HRWC’s autumn River Roundup. You can bring a small group of friends or we’ll put you on a team with other awesome HRWC volunteers. The outing takes about 4 hours and starts at either 9:00 or 10:30 am (you get to choose!). We’ll send you to some really cool spots around the watershed to track down some of those critters. When you return we’ll have a nice snack to share over your stories in the wild!

For info and to register, please check out

*Lampyridae, Tabanidae, and Belostomatidae are, respectively, fireflies, horse flies, and giant water bugs – OH MY!!


Ann Arbor Storm Corps

Interested in chasing storms?

The City of Ann Arbor is offering a unique opportunity for residents to participate in collecting needed data as part of the recently-launched Stormwater Model Calibration and Analysis project, sickness which is the first step in evaluating and recommending improvements to the City’s stormwater system.  (Read more about the project here.)

As part of the City of Ann Arbor’s “Citizen Storm Corps, decease you would be the eyes on the ground, recording and submitting visual observations from one or more of the Large Event Data Gathering (LEDG) locations where the City is monitoring surface flooding.  (See a map of LEDG locations here.)  “Large Events” is the technical term for a big rain storm!

Volunteering is easy, hospital fun, and will not require much time.  If you can take a photo and use a map, you’re qualified!  The City anticipates that over the next few years, Storm Corps volunteers will be asked to submit observations 1-3 times after significant rain events – although more frequent participation would be most welcome, if you choose.

The City of Ann Arbor is hosting several orientation sessions for people who may be interested in serving as part of the Citizen Storm Corps:

  • Tuesday, March 19: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Downtown Library multipurpose room
  • Tuesday, March 19: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Traverwood Library
  • Thursday, March 21: 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. at the Downtown Library multipurpose room

No need to RSVP – please feel free to join at your convenience during any of the above blocks of time (the actual orientation will only take about a half hour).  Also, please note that attending an orientation does not obligate you to participate – come by, check it out, and see what you think!

Finally, if you are not able to attend one of the sessions, but think you might be interested in volunteering in the Citizen Storm Corps, simply contact Jen Lawson at the City of Ann Arbor (734.794.6430 x43735, She will help you identify a convenient location, and orient you to the materials via phone or email.

2013 Yields a Bumper Stonefly Crop

  • A beautiful Huron River, where it crosses Zeeb Road. credit: John Lloyd A beautiful Huron River, where it crosses Zeeb Road. credit: John Lloyd
  • Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek! credit: Nate Antieau Dave Wilson samples Woods Creek! credit: Nate Antieau
  • Digging through the muck of Port Creek. credit: Mark Schaller Digging through the muck of Port Creek. credit: Mark Schaller
  • A quick break for the camera! credit: John Lloyd A quick break for the camera! credit: John Lloyd
  • "Do you see anything?" credit: John Lloyd "Do you see anything?" credit: John Lloyd

Bring on the “brrr!”

On January 26, 110 intrepid volunteers faced the harsh winter elements and spread across the Huron River watershed in search of stoneflies, which are only found in clean and healthy streams.  Everyone made it back safe, which is the number one priority, and it seemed that a good time was had by all.

In 2012 the Stonefly Search volunteers had to deal with melting snow and flood conditions, but this year we had a deep freeze in the week preceeding the Search, and most of the teams had to break their way through the ice in order to sample the stream macroinvertebrates. Despite this challenging problem, stoneflies were found in great abundance at many locations.  The results are in, and are given in this pdf report.


1.  The status quo is being maintained for most of the sampling sites.  Sites that have had stoneflies in the past are still able to support them, and sites that were not healthy enough to hold stoneflies still do not have them.  That being said, we did see a few changes this year which are detailed below.

2. Four sites had the best stonefly samples that had ever been seen at those locations: Chilson Creek at Chilson Road, Fleming Creek at Galpin Road, the Huron River at Flat Rock, and Woodruff Creek at Buno Road.  At each of these sites, the stoneflies normally found at the location were there, but also new stonefly families were found that had never been seen there before! A greater diversity of stoneflies indicates greater stream health.  These are promising results and hopefully it will continue into longer term trends.

3. The team searching for stoneflies in Woods Creek in Belleville came back disappointed.  Wood’s Creek at the Lower Huron Metropark has been sampled 12 times since 1997, and this is the first time that stoneflies could not be found. The problem likely comes from the thick ice and difficult conditions rather than pollution or disturbed stream habitat, but we will keep an eye on Wood’s Creek next year.

4. Traver Creek is a stream in north Ann Arbor that has typical urban stream problems- in particular, flashy flows and runoff, oil, and sediment from roads.  In the past couple of years, part of the train track berm washed out and released a large plume of sediment to Traver Creek.  However, we were pleased that both of the sites sampled on Traver Creek this year turned up stoneflies.  The sites were both upstream and downstream of the wash-out.

Next on the horizon!

Interested in doing more with our macroinvertebrate searches?  Think about becoming a trained leader or collector by coming to the next training on March 24.  This is an extremely important job because every team needs both a trained leader and collector, and we often do not have enough to meet the demand.  Sign up for the training!




Springtime Means Field Time!

Sara Thomas, Executive Director of the Livingston Land Conservancy, and LLC members enjoying a field assessent in a fen.

After a record-breaking March and a more typically cool April, we don’t know what we’ll find out in the field this spring!  I’ve seen trilliums blooming (usually they come out in late May) just uphill of freshly sprouting skunk cabbage (usually a harbinger of early spring in early April).  I can’t wait to get our annual Bioreserve Field Assessment season started!

Join us in surveying the woods and wetlands in the Huron watershed!

WHAT: Volunteers go out in groups to work together on rapid site assessments of grasslands, forests, wetlands, and aquatic habitats throughout the spring, summer and fall (an expected time commitment of four hours per site).

Volunteers must first attend a training where you learn how you can help identify high-quality natural areas for protection as part of the Bioreserve Project. Participants will gain broadly applicable skills in ecological assessment. Please bring a sack lunch. The workshop includes hands-on practice outdoors, so please come prepared for weather and mud.

WHO: All volunteers are welcome, but if you are experienced in plant identification, we especially need your help! Every team will need at least one “plant person” (someone who has some experience with identifying plants). If you have had a plant identification class, or have become familiar with wildflowers, grasses, and trees over time spent hiking this beautiful watershed, we’d love your help! “Plant People” do not need to attend the training; all other volunteers do.

WHERE: The next training will be at Independence Lake County Park. After attending training, volunteers use the Volunteer Page to sign up to go to natural areas throughout the Huron Watershed throughout the field season.

WHEN: Training session:

Rapid Field Assessment Training
Saturday, May 12, 2012
10 am – 3pm
Independence Lake County Park
Whitmore Lake, MI

2012 Field season: May – October 2012.

MORE INFO: Contact Kris at or 734-769-5123 x 607.


If you are a first time volunteer, you need to first go to our First time volunteer form

Then, you can register with the Bioreserve Rapid Field Assessment Training Registration form

That’s a lot of Secchi!

Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program enters its 39th field season!

One of my jobs at the Huron River Watershed Council is to serve as a manager for the state of Michigan’s volunteer lake monitoring program, the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP).   The CLMP has been around since 1974… that is an impressive length of time!

The current state of Michigan inland lakes... Click for a bigger picture!

Since that first year, the thousands of volunteers across Michigan have:

  • Taken 92,185 secchi disk measurements
  • Grabbed 4,274 water samples for phosphorus analysis
  • Filtered 5,956 water samples for chlorophyll
  • Made 2,023 observations of the dates that ice melted off their lakes
  • Measured dissolved oxygen and temperature 52,290 times and created 3,486 dissolved oxygen and temperature lake profiles
  • Searched 17 lakes for exotic plants and mapped out full plant communities on 12 lakes.

All of this delicious data is entered by our volunteers and staff into a publicly accessible and searchable database!

In total, 827 inland lake basins have been monitored through one test or another through the CLMP.  Michigan lake volunteers have contributed about 57,400 hours of work, not counting the time spent driving samples to State offices and going to trainings.  Assuming field technicians across this time period would make an average of $9/hour, that means these volunteers have donated well over a half a million dollars in labor.

If you live on a lake, HRWC wants you to care for it and do what you can to keep it healthy.  The first step is to figure out what is going on beneath the surface, and the CLMP can help you do this.  It is not too late to sign up for the entry parameters: secchi disk and summer phosphorus.  Register now for the 2012 field season!

Preventing Bacterial Contamination

Some of you may not know that the HRWC is well-known throughout the Region for their excellent work in protecting the Huron and the Great Lakes. That’s why I count it an enormous opportunity to work as an intern with them this spring and summer.

Let me introduce myself. I’m Josh Miller, doctor a graduate student at U of M. I’ve been working with Ric Lawson to develop more substantial information about bacterial contamination throughout the watershed. We have developed pages to help residents understand what bacterial contamination is, drugstore how it’s measured and why bacteria levels matter. We have also dedicated a page to the typical sources of contamination and what residents can do about it. A quick tip: celebrate Scoop Poop month by grabbing a baggy on your way out the door to walk your pet.

I’ve also been working on a bacterial contamination impairment in Honey Creek that was discovered by the MDEQ and by HRWC volunteer water monitors in recent years. We kicked off the Honey Creek project in November to make a plan for identifying the likely sources of contamination and to develop Honey Creek’s own Watershed Management Plan. In fact, physician as the study gets underway, we have planned a Stakeholder Meeting for March 29th at 6:00 pm at Scio Township Hall (827 N. Zeeb Rd.). This will give us a chance to present our current knowledge and our strategy for collecting data and developing solutions.  It also gives residents of  Honey Creekshed a chance to provide us with information and to ask questions. If you live or own a business in the creekshed (most residents of Scio Twp), please join us—no invitation required.

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