Checking In with Cumberland County Stream Team!

On February 13th, ALLARM held a check-in meeting with the Cumberland County Stream Team. Despite winter weather resulting in several inches of snow that morning, volunteers from Cumberland County braved the cold and attended the meeting to share some experiences and refill their stream kits! ALLARM staff Isabel Ruff (Volunteer Monitoring Specialist), Whimsy Mark-Ockerbloom ‘24, Amaya Hamilton ‘24, Amelia Harper ‘25, and Crosby Wilkin ‘26 worked together to support the volunteers during this meeting.

The meeting provided space for a facilitated discussion that allowed all attendees to share a bit of their recent monitoring stories. ALLARM always loves to hear about our volunteer’s experiences at their monitoring sites, so we were excited to hear some volunteers expressing interest in taking on new sites or asking ALLARM to place new volunteers with suggested sites. There were inquiries about how different sites along the same waterway can experience different quality levels based on what still bodies of water connect to said waterway. These inquiries resulted in a great discussion on how to expand data collection to more sites up and downstream of still bodies (like lakes) to better understand how healthy they are. Additionally, some attendees voiced interest in learning new methods to measure stream quality, specifically bacterial monitoring. It is always wonderful to hear what our volunteers are interested in monitoring in the future!

According to Whimsy ‘24, “this showcased the direct value of these check-in meetings, allowing volunteers to directly express what they wanted to get out of working with us and where their passions lie.” Of course, the conversation at these meetings is not just between ALLARM and the volunteers, as there was a lot of talk between volunteers providing questions, answers, and support to each other. Many of these volunteers have lived in Cumberland County for many years and have extensive knowledge about the area, so the ALLARM team was able to observe and learn from the local expertise our volunteers have. Between offering guidance for how to make data collection more accessible and how to pass on sites when retiring from volunteering, the Cumberland Stream Team was able to communicate their personal experiences and come up with new strategies to make water monitoring more effective.

From the student perspective, it was inspiring to see the degree to which volunteers were engaged with monitoring and excited about their sites. It was a successful meeting, and we look forward to seeing how the Cumberland Stream Team evolves in the future!

Cumberland Stream Team volunteers in attendance pose with the ALLARM team for a group photo