Our First Workshop Experience – Macroinvertebrates!

On Saturday October 22nd, the ALLARM Team traveled up to Luzerne county to meet up with Stream Team volunteers from surrounding counties for the second of this fall’s macroinvertebrate workshops. Having driven up on Friday, ALLARM used the day before the workshop to scout out the stream location and performed a different macroinvertebrate collection method (Tier 2 Benthic Monitoring) which served as a great opportunity to see what we may find during the workshop. While the pickings were slim at a glance, we of course reconvened the next day in hopes of a bigger haul.

The workshop kicked off with presentations from the ALLARM team. Stephanie Letourneau (Community Science Specialist), started with an introduction to macroinvertebrates and their importance in the stream ecosystem, and Julie Vastine (Director) then followed up with defining the importance of quality control. Watershed coordinators ended the presentations with Nick Bradbury ’23 highlighting safety measures and practices for collection, and Michelle Hom ’24 instructing how to perform the collection (or “kick”) with Whimsy Mark-Ockerbloom ’24 demonstrating. The hands-on portion of the workshop took volunteers into the stream to perform the kick, then back to the provided workspace to pick out and identify macroinvertebrates. Volunteers were split into three groups, each assisted by one or two ALLARMies.

One group works on the kick protocol to collect macroinvertebrates

Overall, we really enjoyed this weekend event, especially because it was our first macroinvertebrate workshop! It was great to see all the volunteers so engaged, asking a lot of questions about each step of the process. The two of us were also paired together to lead our group of volunteers, so we got to experience our first workshop side by side. One of our favorite moments was putting harder-to-identify macros, such as a cranefly larva or a very, very small scud, under the microscope and having the volunteers identify them using dichotomous keys. It was amazing to see that moment where the information clicked for the volunteers, or when they landed upon the correct identification! We were happy to take part in this workshop and provide the volunteers with the tools and skills to go through macroinvertebrate collection and identification on their own!

All attendees stand together for a group photo