On Tuesday, October 5th, Julie Vastine (Director) and I drove up to Erie, Pennsylvania to drop off monitoring equipment for the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Watershed Association (PLEWA). Upon our arrival, Julie and I met with the leadership team of PLEWA to discuss their monitoring study design, followed by a meeting with all of the volunteers.
ALLARM’s role in PLEWA’s monitoring project is to serve as a project facilitator – guiding the group to make decisions and then providing capacity-building trainings to help volunteers learn the stream monitoring techniques. First, I was able to sit in on the study design meeting before volunteers arrived. We covered how quality control would work for PLEWA’s four parameter measurements, being water clarity, temperature, conductivity, and nitrate-nitrogen. Hearing this discussion was interesting to me, as I was able to peek behind the scenes and see how some stream monitoring decisions are made! I look forward to learning more about the study design process and how ALLARM forms initial connections with groups such as PLEWA.
The second part was an equipment dissemination meeting where we handed out equipment and walked volunteers through the kits and their binders. Additionally, we had the chance to provide hands-on experience in the local stream with the transparency tubes to check for turbidity. I ended up showcasing each item of the test kit as Julie explained their usage, and then spoke to a subsection of the enthusiastic volunteers about how to use the conductivity meter. The group seemed very excited about being able to use some of the equipment for the first time, especially as we walked down to the creek to practice testing the water clarity.
This was my first time working with volunteers, and I could not ask for a more positive experience. The volunteers were engaged and passionate about their streams. When they had found out that I had never been to Lake Erie before, they gave me countless suggestions for places to go and things to see before our long drive back to Carlisle. The PLEWA volunteers will next meet with the ALLARM staff for a virtual training session on how to use their testing kits, and I look forward to working with PLEWA going forward!