Become a Citizen Scientist!
Join the Friends as we explore the Shiawassee River and collect samples of the aquatic bugs that live there to learn more about the health of our river.
Questions? Email Sarah Baker, Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Friends' office at (989) 723-9062.
Curious to see what to do before signing up? Watch this video!
What is Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Sampling?
The number and type of bugs found in a stream are an indicator of river health. Based on the bugs collected at a testing site, we're able to give that stretch of river a water quality rating according to standards set by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Clean Water Corps program (MICorps). The Shiawassee Stream Team is an extension of the MICorps program.
With an emphasis on collecting high-quality data, groups of volunteers from around the watershed are trained to collect samples of benthic macro-invertebrates (water bugs!). We refer to these groups as Stream Teams. The data collected each year builds a long-term record that can assists local and state governments, research institutions, and other community organizations gain a better sense of river health and to quickly recognize and address pollution problems.
Our goal is to help communities and motivate local governments to protect water quality by providing them with data on the river's health...and to have fun while doing it! Click here to download and share our brochure!
What is "Sampling" and what would I have to do, exactly?
Sampling Teams test multiple sites for a half day two times per year, in the spring and in the fall. A Team Leader is assigned to organize activities at each site by assigning other volunteers the job of either a Collector or a Picker.
Collectors borrow a pair of waders and an aquatic net (provided by Friends) and wade through sections of the river, kicking up sediment and scooping up bugs that live on the river bottom. The Collectors then put these samples of sediment into trays for the Pickers, who comb through the sediment with forceps looking anything that moves. Any bugs found are placed in jars for identification at Bug I.D. Night.
Who can participate?
These Teams are geared toward adults, students, and older children; due to the need for careful data collection. If you have questions about whether or not your child may participate, please call the Friends' office.
By testing water quality in different regions of the Shiawassee River, Sampling Teams are creating a clearer picture of watershed health. Through local Stream Teams, communities are also sharing resources and knowledge that enables them to improve the entire Shiawassee River System. Our goal is to create Stream Teams in every region of the Shiawassee River Watershed.