I have had the opportunity to experience many stages of Stream Team: what is that, you may ask? It is a volunteer water quality monitoring program created by ALLARM in partnership with the Lower and Middle Susquehanna Riverkeepers. First, interested community members are informed about the program and what it means to become a Stream Team volunteer. At a later point, volunteers are trained to do chemical testing and prepared for monthly monitoring at a workshop. I have trained two groups of volunteers in York, PA (last December) and during June in ALLARM’S home base, Cumberland County! It takes a lot of time to prepare for a workshop well. You want to make sure you know what monitoring involves and that you are able to teach others how to use the monitoring equipment. At the workshops, I balance teaching around three to four people who all have varying experience with water quality monitoring. I enjoy listening to their ties to their local stream or rivers, because hearing about fishing, kayaking, or bike rides near those water bodies is always a fun experience. After the workshops, volunteers receive kits and ALLARM checks in twice with them, after the first sampling and at the 6 month midpoint, to see how monitoring is going.
I was able to see familiar faces from my first Stream Team workshop when ALLARM collected water samples from volunteers for quality control checks and taught volunteers how to upload their water quality data to the Chesapeake Data Explorer (CDE) at the York Stream Team meeting in June. The CDE is a database created by the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative which holds information about waterbodies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from volunteer monitors and is accessible to the public. The next steps after this checkpoint in Stream Team is macroinvertebrate monitoring and data interpretation! It has been really rewarding to be involved with Stream Team since its start and to see how big the program is growing with the increasing number of volunteers, as well as witnessing the changes Stream Team and the volunteers go through.