Regional and National Facilitation of Volunteer Monitoring Efforts

National Volunteer Monitoring Program Meeting in 2006The National Facilitation of NIFA Volunteer Monitoring Efforts Project, a cooperative effort between the Universities of Rhode Island and Wisconsin, built a comprehensive support system for the 51 identified Extension volunteer water quality monitoring efforts across the country. This project researched programs’ beginnings, training techniques, quality assurance measures, volunteer support tools, outreach tools, and funding. This information was synthesized into a Guide for Growing Programs to expand and strengthen the capacity of existing programs and support the development of new programs.

The New England Regional Monitoring Collaborative (NERMC) was formed by the New England Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring programs and coordinates the delivery of training and related services regionally. NERMC developed assessment tools that give water quality monitoring and watershed groups throughout New England the "big picture" and the "bottom line" on the ecological integrity of their watersheds and expand upon conventional water monitoring techniques. New Englanders, including state and regional agency representatives, local conservation organizations, and volunteer water quality coordinators and monitors, who participate in NERMC's train-the-trainer workshops apply their learning by teaching others and conducting assessments in their home watersheds.

volunteer monitor trainingIn 2005, NERMC brought together federal, state, and volunteer water quality monitoring partners at the New England Monitoring Summit to develop a sustainable support system for volunteer monitoring. Following the summit, a final report outlined recommendations to ensure adequate resources and technical support to sustain and expand volunteer water quality monitoring efforts in New England.

The Lake Education and Action Project, LEAP, funded by NIFA NIWQP has allowed UMaine Cooperative Extension to adapt volunteer water quality monitoring programs from New Hampshire and Vermont. UMaine adopted the outreach training and watershed erosion survey method using training materials from UNH's "following the flow" survey. A UMaine "following the flow" erosion survey for the Narrow Lakes created partnerships with the local town Soil and Water Conservation District. These partners plan to apply for U.S. EPA funding to remediate the 120 eroding sites documented in the survey. In addition, UMaine has adopted UVM's Watershed Alliance methods to partner with area schools.

The New Hampshire Lakes Lay Monitoring (LLMP) is dedicated to preservation and sound management of lakes through citizen-based monitoring and research. Begun at UNH over two decades ago as one of the first citizen monitoring programs, the LLMP has been directly involved in the initiation and expansion of volunteer programs in 24 states and 11 countries.