Grace: Throughout the last week of April, I was able to attend several sessions for the annual National Water Quality Monitoring Conference. This year’s theme was “Working Together, Virtually, for Clean Water,” and the week was filled with opportunities to attend sessions relating to water quality in several different capacities. This conference is usually a week long in-person conference, but due to the pandemic it was virtual this year, which made it more accessible to ALLARM Watershed Coordinators to attend this year!
During the week of the National Monitoring Conference I was able to attend a few different sessions that pertained to both the work I do at ALLARM as well as to new topics. After spending a semester doing research on the Clean Water Act as a part of a larger project, being able to attend the session “Performing Clean Water Act Assessments More Efficiently Using Sharable Code” gravitated towards me. It gave me the chance to see what other organizations are doing with the same policy I’ve been researching. I was also able to watch a session titled “Local, State, and Regional Uses of Community Collected Data” that was moderated by our director at ALLARM, Julie Vastine. This session showed me a lot about how organizations similar to ALLARM are utilizing their volunteer data.
Kyra: Over the course of this current semester I have been learning how ALLARM and its partner monitor the streams in Pennsylvania and beyond. Attending the NMC provided me with an idea of what other methods monitoring organizations and groups apply to monitor many different types of water bodies across the nation. I learned about forestry BMPs (Best Management Practices) that different organizations use coast to coast to protect forest streams and creeks. Finally, what struck me the most from the NMC was the emphasis that speakers made on educating the communities around them as a part of their cause. I found it reassuring that community involvement was a key aspect of the water monitoring agenda as it is up to all of us across the nation to keep our water bodies safe!
Grace: All of the sessions I was able to attend were educational and reminded me of the importance of the work that ALLARM and other watershed organizations are doing to educate on issues pertaining to water and engage folks with the monitoring of its quality. Again, this was a great opportunity for ALLARMies who would not usually be able to attend this conference, and I think we were all able to learn something new because of it!