Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Americorp Watershed Updates, Part 2 of 4: Leading Creek Waterhshed

Americorp member Karla Sanders from the Leading Creek Watershed shares her story about volunteer mobilization, and the Leading Creek Volunteer Monitors Program, and the Annual Leading Creek Stream Sweep.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have contacted me to volunteer for the Leading Volunteer Monitors Program. Many of the volunteers are Geography students from Ohio University. I presented a short PowerPoint to a class of about 40 Geography students in March. Seven students from the class have now volunteered for the program. All fifteen volunteer positions have been filled. The group of volunteers is diverse, there are a few more men than women, but the ages range from 21 to 60 plus. The group is also diverse in terms of thier skills. I believe the volunteers will have a lot to learn from each other. Some of the volunteers are familiar with monitoring and water issues, while others are not. For example, one volunteer wrote, “I live here and I’m concerned about the water,” and she hopes to learn, “More about the water in this watershed and hopefully things to do to help improve it.”

Volunteers will have a greater opportunity to learn because they are required to work with at least one other volunteer. This increases interaction while helping to keep the volunteers safe. My hope is that the OU students will be able to mingle with the watershed residents and learn more about the area and culture through them. The Leading Volunteer Monitoring Program is a more long-term volunteer opportunity, and requires a greater time commitment from volunteers.

Aside from the monitoring project, the Annual Leading Creek Stream Sweep offered a great one-time volunteer opportunity for community residents. The 65 volunteers that participated seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. This group of volunteers was diverse, including students of a local Boy Scout troop and 4-H club, as well as adults and senior citizens. Volunteers arrived and set out to clean up litter with unexpected enthusiasm. Photos of the volunteers may be seen on our website at www.meigsswcd.com under the Photos page.

Nearly 1 ton of trash was collected during the event, not including the litter sorted out and recycled. This event shows that it’s not hard to do something to help the watershed, our environment, and community. It’s an educational opportunity for youth and adults alike to learn first-hand about litter prevention, volunteerism, and community organizing. The event also allowed families to work together and interact with other community members.

Volunteers of the Leading Volunteer Monitors Program who are residents with streams running through their land are allowing fellow volunteers to monitor on their properties and collect new information about the watershed. Stream Sweep volunteers have an opportunity to walk and drive parts of the watershed they would normally pay little attention to. These programs allow us to expand what people know about the Leading Creek Watershed, and provide ways to contribute positively to keeping the watershed healthy and improving water quality.