Taylor Steele has a long career in environmental education and public outreach, and currently serves as Volunteer Coordinator at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Prior to that, he served as the resident manager for Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in the Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham-Southern College for three years. Before that he was the Director of Science Education for five years at Cornerstone Schools of Alabama. In addition, he previously worked at McWane Science Center with the GLOBE Program as the Environmental Science Coordinator. Taylor has also served as a naturalist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Parks Division. He has an academic background in Environmental/ Conservation Studies from University of Alabama at Birmingham.
by Stephen G. Tsikalas, Ph.D. and Jade Patolo, M.S.
Established in February of 2014 by Jade Patolo with the assistance of Ms. Francine Hutchinson and Dr. Stephen Tsikalas, the Jacksonville River Monitors (JRM) are a group of citizen and student scientists concerned about water quality and land-use management in the Coosa River Basin. Our monitors receive training through Alabama Water Watch (AWW) in water chemistry (pH, temp, turbidity, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, hardness) and bacteriology [Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other coliforms] methods for fresh water.
On June 13th, the AWW Annual Meeting took place in Auburn, AL. You can read the highlights from this great get-together in the previous blog article: Who’s watching our water
One of our favorite things to do during the AWW Annual Meeting is to recognize several of the dedicated volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for the year.
Through the years, there are several awards that have become AWW standards. The Mullen Award is one of those quintessential awards. This award is intended to recognize the individual who has submitted more water data records than any other monitor during the last 12 months. It is called the Mullen Award because Mike and Alice Mullen turn in such a large amount of records each year that no one else can ever beat them. We thought that naming the award after them was only appropriate! This year Mike submitted 318 records and Alice submitted 107! That’s a lot of hours streamside!!
I first met LaVerne at an annual meeting of the Smith Lake water watchers several years ago. He immediately struck me as a straightforward gentleman who was concerned about preserving and protecting the environment and was committed to doing something about it. He introduced himself and then asked me ‘can we get AWW to come up to Winston County and conduct some of your water testing classes for us?” I replied that we would be thrilled to train folks in Winston County in water quality monitoring since we had no volunteer water monitors there. And thus it began. Continue reading
One of the most common misconceptions that we, the AWW staff, frequently encounter in our travels throughout the state is “the state is looking after my creek/river/lake/bay/bayou, right?” Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the answer is “sort of”. With more than 77,000 miles of streams/rivers and over half a million acres of pond/lakes/reservoirs in the state, even a well-funded state agency would be hard-pressed to monitor Alabama’s waters, let alone a state agency that’s been cut to the bone, as the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has been.
Enter Alabama Water Watch. As the AWW monitors, trainers and friends from eight of the state’s ten major basins learned at AWW’s Annual Gathering on Saturday, June 13th, the collective efforts of hundreds of citizen volunteer monitors are taking up the slack.
Good question, Mr. Lorax! A group of fourteen enthusiastic citizen volunteers joined AWW staffers, Sergio Ruiz –Córdova and Mona Dominguez, to participate in an Exploring Our Living Steams workshop for an answer. The two-day workshop was conducted at New Site, AL, organized and sponsored by Sabrina Wood, Alabama Clean Water Partnership Facilitator for the Tallapoosa Basin. Folks came from Alexander City, Jackson’s Gap, Dadeville, Eclectic, Wedowee, Montgomery, Rockford, Auburn and Daviston to learn about Alabama’s streams. Continue reading