Jason and His New Job

I’ve now been at HRWC for five months. All the HRWC volunteers and members have gone from saying, “You have BIG shoes to fill” to, “How’s the new job going?” My friends, family, and the staff and volunteers from Natural Area Preservation have gone from asking, “How’s the new job going? How are you doing?” to, “What do you do?” So I thought I’d answer these questions and give you an idea of what I’m up to.

Volunteers at RoundUp finding macroinvertebrates

I work on three primary projects. The most widely known is our Adopt-A-Stream program. I coordinate the hundreds of volunteers who collect scientific-level data about the quality of the streams and main branch of the Huron River. Paul Steen, who I now spend more time with than anyone else in my life, interprets this data and creates reports. These products are used by staff and volunteers to promote the protection of the river. The largest Adopt events are the three River RoundUps, which occur in spring, autumn, and winter. In the summer we have two in-stream data gathering projects which augment the RoundUp data to give us a broad understanding of what is happening at our collection sites. Specifically these supportive projects are the Measuring and Mapping/Habitat Study and the Stream Temperature Study. Currently this program is supported by a grant from the Stranahan Foundation.

The second project I work on is our school education program. I co-coordinate this project with an amazing and inspiring volunteer, David Wilson. HRWC staff and volunteers, with Dave’s leadership, go into local schools to educate students about water quality, healthy waterways, water testing, benthic macroinvertabrates, and the list goes on. These school gigs support our local teachers’ individual needs, in bringing their students into nature with access to hard-science and applied math. With an amazing group of educators, scientists, retired engineers, and professors our local schools are in good hands. This program is generously supported by a grant from TOYOTA.

River Scouts on the Huron

Finally, I work with a group of very active river users, who have taken on the title “River Scout”. These individuals have agreed to be The Lorax for the Huron River. We are working together to raise our collective understanding of what is happening on the ground and in the river on a day-to-day basis. REI just renewed their support for this program.

On the personal side of things, I’ve really been enjoying the past few months. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know, and become friends with the HRWC staff (of course this included Joan!). So in some respects I knew what I was getting into. The only person I hadn’t met was Paul… until my interview. I’m very excited to say that I greatly enjoy working with Paul. I’ve even taken to calling him my “work husband”, which his wife Kellie thinks is very funny.

When I decided to move to the Watershed Council many of the reasons in both my pros and cons lists could be summarized as the desire for new professional challenges. This I have gotten, and in spades. And I’m enjoying every minute of it. I have wonderfully supportive and kind peers, who help me raise the bar on my professionalism. My boss is thoughtful and forward-looking, which keeps my own expectations realistic. The HRWC volunteers are amazing and inspiring, all of whom add to my delight every day as I make my way to work.

I’m looking forward to continuing to understand my job, our volunteers, and all the HRWC activities. And I look forward to sharing the process with you.

Best, ~Jason