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Education About Waterways May Come With A Helpful Side Effect: More Stewardship

Courtesy Danelle Haake / RiverWatch
Participants at RiverWatch training workshops learn to collect and identify stream invertebrates.

A network of volunteers keep watchful eyes on water quality in streams and rivers across Illinois. You'll soon have a chance to join them.

RiverWatch is hosting a volunteer training workshop on April 10 at the Tawny Oaks Field Station in Edelstein.

Danelle Haake is the group's director.

"The collections they'll be doing are looking at what are called aquatic macroinvertebrates, which basically means water bugs that are big enough to see with the unaided eye," Haake said. "We'll teach them how to collect them, how to identify them, and then what those mean for the water quality in that local stream."

Haake says a beneficial side effect of recruiting average people to monitor water quality is education.

"People don't want to protect things if they don't know they exist. They're not going to value water resources if they're not familiar with the water in their own neighborhoods and communities," she said.

Haake says it also encourages stewardship of Illinois waterways.

"Learning about it is one thing. Learning to care about it is something else," Haake said. "So being able to emphasize the importance of, this is your water resource. Everyone needs water."

More than 2,000 volunteers currently monitor over 900 streams and rivers across the state through the RiverWatch program.

Click here for more information on how to sign up for the April 10 training session in Edelstein.

  Editor's note: The training session is April 10, not April 12. We regret the error.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.