AWW Tiger Giving Project, Protect Alabama Waterways, Mini-grant Program

WE ARE CURRENTLY RECEIVING APPLICATIONS FOR THE AWW TIGER GIVING PROJECT MINI-GRANT PROGRAM!! CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE APPLICATION.

If you are a certified AWW monitor and need some help to get started monitoring at an orphaned site or a new site, in the form of a water chemistry test kit, water chemistry reagents to refill an existing kit, or bacteria supplies, this mini-grant program is for you!

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AWW Annual Meeting Awards

We would like to thank everyone who attended the 2019 Alabama Water Watch Annual Meeting on June 22, 2019. As always, it was a pleasure to be able to catch up and chat with each of you about the great work you’ve been doing. Below, you will find a quick recap of the groups of individuals awarded honors for their exemplary work this year.

The winner of the 2019 Mullen Award is Janne Debes who submitted a total of 136 records! A few years ago, we named this award the Mullen Award because when it comes to collecting water data, no one can ever beat Mike and Alice Mullen. This year Mike submitted 325 records. Alice submitted 104! Janne’s passion for life and water watching serves as a wonderful reminder for why we do what we do, and we are so glad that she is now a part of Alabama Water Watch. Unfortunately, she could not be with us to receive her award, but she is traveling in Iceland with her granddaughter who just graduated from high

The 2019 AWW Trainer of the Year is Mimi Fearn who conducted 19 workshops this year, bringing her overall total of workshops conducted to 81! Mimi has been involved with AWW as a volunteer monitor since 1998. She became a Water Chemistry Monitoring Trainer in 2001 and a Bacteriological Monitoring Trainer in 2017. Mimi was an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of South Alabama for many years before her retirement. She incorporated AWW into her classroom, introducing hundreds of students to the importance of water monitoring through the years. In retirement, she has amped up her training and monitoring activity with AWW and has led a water monitoring “revival” for her home watershed group, the Dog River Clearwater Revival. Mimi is an excellent instructor and also serves as a great “technical” resource person for AWW. We thank her for her hard work at protecting and restoring water quality, one workshop at a time.

For the first time ever Alabama Water Watch would to present the “4-H Alabama Water Watcher Award”. We are happy to present this award to Madison Younge of 4-H AWW Washington County. Madison was one our very first 4-H AWW monitors, being certified back in 2015 along with her three sisters and grandfather at the age of 11. Since then, she has regularly monitored three sites on Bassett Creek with her grandfather, submitting more than 110 records! Last Summer, Madison took home first place in the Natural Resources Category of the 4-H Competitive Events Day after submitting the first 4-H AWW focused project called “Blackwater, is it normal?” which made us all very proud. Madison is a great example of how students can get involved with 4-H AWW while making a difference in the local watershed and exploring career opportunities in the process!

This year, AWW would like to recognize the exemplary partnerships that have evolved over the past few years between the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and coastal AWW Monitoring Groups with the AWW Confluence Award.  In 2016, the MBNEP’s Community Action Committee adopted a strategy to serve as a hub for coastal Alabama citizen science. Goals of this strategy are to provide an ongoing quality data source for measuring the health of coastal waters; to grow the cadre of citizen scientists in coastal Alabama and build the capacity and contributions of grassroots groups related to informing and implementing watershed management plans. Because of their partnership, the efforts of several existing watershed groups such as the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch and Dog River Clean Water Revival have been bolstered.  Additionally, several new monitoring groups have been established, including the Fowl River Area Civic Association and Bon Secour Bay Watershed Watch. We have awarded this to Jason Kudulis on behalf of MBNEP as well as thank all members of the partnering groups.

We are happy to recognize Dr. Joe Scanlan with the 2019 Biodiversity Guardian Award. We all had the pleasure of hearing directly from Dr. Scanlan about his monitoring efforts to protect the killifish. Since 2005, Dr. Scanlan has submitted 453 Chemistry Records primarily from killifish habitats. This award was inspired by and is named after Marty Schulman who was an integral part of the Watercress Darter Monitoring Program that integrated AWW monitoring into the protection of the endangered Watercress Darter, a small and beautiful fish found only in in five springs of Jefferson County Alabama. In Marty’s words: “Besides us humans, there’s a broad spectrum of aquatic and terrestrial life that share our clean water needs; so there’s a common requirement for clean water that doesn’t put human interests above the other critters that we live with.” This idea is part of the foundation AWW was built on, and it is clear that Dr. Scanlan has embodied them with his work.

It is fitting that we are on the Coast this year as we recognize Homer Singleton as our 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Homer began his involvement with the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch around the year 2000, and shortly after began monitoring with AWW in 2003. Since that time, Homer has submitted over 500 records to the AWW database and has been an outstanding Trainer, conducting around 110 workshops to certify hundreds of monitors. Furthermore, Homer has served on the board of directors of WBWW for many years and was also the president for a time. One of their most notable accomplishments, of which Homer was a major part, was the successful campaign to have Wolf Bay designated as an Outstanding Alabama Waterbody.  Homer is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to water quality, and both AWW and WBWW are much better organizations because of his involvement. We are so thankful for the way he has contributed and continues to contribute to water quality in Alabama.

Alabama Rivers Educator Workshops

This summer, AWW launched a brand-new curriculum and set of educator workshops focused on the book, Alabama Rivers: A Celebration & Challenge, by former AWW Director, Dr. Bill Deutsch. The project was made possible with special funding from the Alabama Bicentennial Commission (Alabama 200), support of the Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

A lesson plan focused on geology, “Towel Tectonics” has been a crowd favorite with our workshop participants!

The project resulted in An Educator’s Guide to Alabama Rivers that has 9 Modules that are based on the River Celebrations presented in the book:

Each Module contains 1-3 lessons that are correlated to the Alabama Course of Study for grades 4-7 for subjects including social science, science, and visual arts, but can be easily adapted for other grade levels and subjects. In addition, the Guide provides educators with tools that can be utilized to create additional lessons.

Educators at our AL Rivers Workshop at Five Rivers Delta in Spanish Fort testing out the activity, “Food Web Cup Stack.”

To date, a total of 4 workshops have been facilitated around the state. During each workshop, the educators have received a copy of Alabama Rivers: A Celebration & Challenge, An Educator’s Guide to Alabama Rivers, and some teaching materials. They have also had the option to receive Continuing Education Units for their participation. Partners from each hosting organization have contributed knowledge unique to the location. In addition, each workshop has included a water-related field trip or activity that educators could potentially replicate with their students. Educators who have participated have included: formal teachers who will use the curriculum in their classrooms, 4-H agents who will adapt the lessons for club activities and in-school enrichment, as well as other informal educations and community volunteers.

So far, the curriculum has been well-received and participants have provided valuable feedback that AWW Staff will use for its improvement.

Playing in Swingle Creek and looking for aquatic macroinvertebrates for our AL Rivers Workshop at Pioneer Park in Loachapoka, AL!

There are still at least two opportunities to attend an Educator Workshop in 2019. Legacy, Inc. is sponsoring the following workshop opportunities:

  • September 21st – Turtle Point Science Center from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – Alabama Rivers Workshop
  • November 9th – Cheaha State Park from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm- Alabama Rivers Workshop

*Registration is only $35 and is managed through Legacy.

Contact the AWW Office with any questions!

Our Five Rivers Delta AL Rivers Workshop in Spanish Fort took a boat cruise of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

MeOWW – Renee Frachioni

On the most perfect spring day, I had the pleasure of leaving my computer screen behind to go into the field and conduct a recertification session for one of our volunteers, Renee Frachioni. We made the short drive over to Town Creek, which is one of the four sites where she does her monthly water chemistry monitoring in the Auburn area. Renee is a very methodical and careful monitor, so my job recertifying was quite easy. It gave me the chance to soak in some of the warm sunshine, to listen to the bubbling creek, and I even spotted a tiger swallowtail butterfly flutter by.

After we finished up, we sat down on a bench near the trail to her site and I took the opportunity to ask her a few “MeOWW Worthy Questions.” We are lucky in the AWW Office to be able to see Renee (and her husband Mark who usually goes with her to test on a monthly basis) when she comes to borrow a testing kit. Take a minute and get to know her!

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AU Fish Camp

This past week, Alabama Water Watch (AWW) had the pleasure of taking part in Auburn University’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Camp, an event where interested high school students from across the country have the opportunity to dedicate a week of their summer vacation to experiencing various aspects of careers in natural resources. These students have the unique opportunity to not only get a glimpse of what their future professions may look like through fun activities like fishing and kayaking, but they also have the chance to experience campus-life by staying in Auburn University’s dormitories and eating at the University’s dining facilities.

AWW has been involved with AU “Fish Camp” since Dr. David Cline, an aquaculture specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University School of Fisheries, founded the program around 10 years ago. As a resident of Alabama, the state with the highest aquatic biodiversity in the country, Cline is passionate about fostering an interest in the health of the country’s water systems and the various species of life that live within them in young people across the nation.

This summer, AWW had the chance to teach the campers about Alabama’s aquatic macroinvertebrates by traveling just a few miles south of town to Parkerson Mill Creek, the very same creek that runs through AU’s campus. Here, Rachel McGuire and Sergio RuizCordova of AWW gave the campers a quick lecture on the various invertebrates they might encounter and what each species could potentially mean for the health of that section of the creek. Then, after swapping into water-appropriate footwear, it was time to get in the water.

The group waded into the creek with dip nets, kick nets, and buckets to start searching for whatever critters might be hiding underneath the surface. The students had a lot of fun getting their feet wet and after less than an hour of work had plenty of little invertebrates to show for it.  The group found countless, tiny Mayflies, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, hellgrammites, bloodworms, caddisflies, and even a tiny leech in the creek. Because of the high diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates that were found,  the group was able to determine the health of this particular part of Parkerson Mill Creek to be excellent with a biotic index of 27!

AWW is glad to find that so many students care about the health of the world’s water. It’s these kinds of interactions that give us hope for the future, and we hope to continue our relationship with AU Fish Camp and Dr. David Cline for years to come.

Check out Dr. Cline’s YouTube channel to see the 2019 AU Fish Camp highlights!