The Illinois RiverWatch Network is offering Illinois residents the chance to train to become citizen scientists and join the network of more than 750 volunteers throughout the state who monitor water quality of Illinois streams. A workshop will be held May 3 at The Nature Institute, 2213 S. Levis Lane in Godfrey.
RiverWatch is a statewide partnership of organizations and individuals working to protect Illinois streams and waterways. Established in 1995 as a sub-program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Eco Watch Network, certified volunteers called “Citizen Scientists” examine indicators like stream habitats and diversity of macroinvertebrate species to provide reliable water quality data that can be used by scientists to determine how stream conditions change over time.
RiverWatch is a program of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, a partnership between Lewis and Clark Community College, the University of Illinois and the Illinois Natural History Survey.
Since its founding in 1995, more than 1,700 individuals have received certification through RiverWatch, and 750 stream sites have been established for annual water quality sampling.
A series of volunteer training workshops will be held throughout the state this spring. The workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and combine both lecture/classroom time with field training in a local stream.
Registration is $50 per person and must be paid in advance of the workshop. A limited amount of scholarships for students may still be available.
“Our rivers and streams are one of the most important natural resources we have, providing clean drinking water, pollution reduction and wildlife habitat, while also playing a vital role in many sectors of the economy,” RiverWatch Biologist Matthew Young said. “The scientific monitoring of our streams is important to safeguard the future of Illinois rivers and streams.
“While there are government agencies devoted to stream monitoring, resources are limited to monitor all streams regularly,” Young said. “This is why RiverWatch Citizen Scientists are so important; they provide reliable scientific data on stream health where none previously existed and can provide broader watershed perspectives on the quality of Illinois streams. ”
Training workshops are for volunteers who have received no training or partial training through RiverWatch programs and who wish to become a part of the certified network of volunteers throughout the state. Anybody can become a volunteer, but registrants younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult.