On Wednesday, September 15, I traveled with Stephanie Letourneau (Community Science Specialist) to Scranton, PA (Lackawanna County) to meet with Stream Team volunteers. The goal of the meeting was to collect the volunteers’ QC samples and to teach them about stage and water clarity, two new parameters we are adding to data collection. This meeting marked my first experience working with Stream Team and was my first exposure to walking others through water quality parameters. This meeting was also especially important due to having in-person and QC sample representation from five different counties: Susquehanna, Lycoming, Clinton, Lackawanna and Luzerne!
Days before the meeting itself, Stephanie and I looked over the Stream Team Monitoring Manual, and prepared the materials needed for both the new parameters and to replenish existing kits. We went over the stage and water clarity sections, and practiced measuring, reading, and recording the data so that I would be comfortable working with the volunteers. When it comes to stage, I learned the importance of the relationship between water level and the other parameters volunteers test for, and learned that there were two different ways to measure it depending on a volunteer’s site: using a gage stick in-stream, or a measuring tape from a bridge. Learning about water clarity was also interesting. Water clarity is the measure of how much light passes through water. This is especially important because particles in the water reduce the amount of sunlight that passes through the stream, ultimately affecting the growth of aquatic plants.
Going into the meeting, I was very nervous about public speaking and teaching the volunteers about a topic I was just introduced to. However, the volunteers’ passion for their work made the whole experience very enjoyable. One of my favorite moments was when Stephanie and I split the volunteers, and I had the chance to teach them how to work the turbidity tube and gage stick on my own. As they were trying to record their findings, they had really good discussions about how to read the measurements and asked great questions. I had a tough time answering some of their questions, but hope to get better as the year progresses. I hope to continue doing more events engaging with volunteers, improving public speaking skills, and gaining confidence working with volunteers. Best of luck with the new parameters!