If you'd like to pitch in to help protect the environment, the Illinois RiverWatch Network has an opportunity for you.
The network is offering Illinois residents the chance to train to become citizen scientists and join a network of more than 750 volunteers throughout the state who monitor the water quality of Illinois streams.
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 the conditions of streams are changing 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.
A series of volunteer training workshops will be held throughout the state this spring. The workshops combine both classroom time with field training in a local stream. Registration is $50 per person and must be paid in advance of the workshop.
"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."
Anybody can become a volunteer, but registrants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.