2016’s Award Winning Water Watchers

The following groups and individuals were recognized during the AWW Annual Meeting on June 25, 2016 in Auburn. We hope that you will join us in congratulating them for achieving water monitoring milestones during the past year!

The top five Most Active Groups for 2015-2016, according to the number of water data records submitted to AWW were:

Groups Chart

Way to go groups!

Mullen Award
This award recognizes the individual who turned in more data records than any other monitor during the past year. The award is named for Michael and Alice Mullen, who consistently rank at the top of the AWW list when it comes to data records.  This past year Mike submitted 390 data records and Alice submitted 130!! Together they have submitted over 7,000 records throughout the years.

Marty pictured on the left after a Village Creek Society Outreach Event
Marty pictured on the left after a Village Creek Society Outreach Event

Marty Schulman is the Mullen Award Recipient for the second consecutive year! Marty submitted 77 records, many of which were collected in an effort to protect the habitat of the Watercress Darter, an endangered fish found in only a few streams in the Birmingham area. In addition to sampling, Marty has been helping to deliver water quality educational programs to youth in conjunction with the Village Creek Society. We hope that some of those kids will grow up to be as AWWsome as Marty!! Click here to read more about Marty’s efforts with the Watercress Darter habitat monitoring.

Trainer of the Year
The value of AWW Volunteer Trainers cannot be emphasized enough. By giving of their time and energy to train interested citizens, they make it possible for AWW to meet the need for water monitors on a statewide scale. Sydney Smith is the 2016 AWW Trainer of the Year! Sydney has been involved with AWW as a monitor since 2014. She found out about AWW when she started sampling with her dad while in high school. She currently works with Dr. Eve Brantley with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. She quickly became a regular monitor, and in 2015 took the next step to become a volunteer trainer. She has led or assisted with a total of 9 workshops in her first year as a trainer!  Thank you Sydney! Read more about Sydney and her experiences with AWW in a MEOWW article from May 2016.

Sydney receives her certificate and an extra special gift – a petri dish full of E. coli (don’t worry they were just cute stuffed replicas. “AWW workshops have been multiplying like E. coli since Sydney came on board as a trainer!” – Director of AWW, Eric Reutebuch.
Sydney receives her certificate and an extra special gift – a petri dish full of E. coli (don’t worry they were just cute stuffed replicas. “AWW workshops have been multiplying like E. coli since Sydney came on board as a trainer!” – Director of AWW, Eric Reutebuch

4-H AWW Club of the Year
The 4-H AWW Program has been steadily growing since it was established in 2013. Successful clubs need the support of the local 4-H Agent, volunteers, and families. They also need responsible youth who are willing to work to master new skills and have a desire to take care of the environment. The first ever 4-H AWW Club of the Year award goes to 4-H AWW Washington County Club. The group began in April of 2015, thanks to AWW Volunteer Trainer Flo Peters who encouraged her brother, HB Taylor, to start monitoring with his granddaughters in their hometown of Chatom. The newly hired Washington County 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent, Sabra Johnson, supported the efforts to start 4-H AWW in the area. Thanks to the support of Flo, HB, and Sabra this group has been active and growing ever since.  They’ve turned in over 40 data records and have already made a difference in local water quality. We are so proud of this model 4-H AWW Club and appreciate what you are doing for water quality in Washington County! Read more about 4-H AWW Washington County here.

4-H AWW Washington County Club
4-H AWW Club of the Year – 4-H AWW Washington County Club

All Time Best Cat Herder: Rita Grub
If you have ever contacted AWW to register for a workshop or ask a question about your data, chances are you’ve communicated with Rita. With her eye for detail and passion for water monitoring, she plays an integral role in keeping the AWW ship afloat! Her involvement with AWW as a volunteer started back in 2001. In 2008, she began working in the AWW Office. During her brief on-the-job training session she heard for the first time the expression, “Herding Cats”, used to describe what it was like to keep up with the AWW Staff. At first Rita was very confused because she thought the person had said, “Hurting Cats”, and could not imagine why anyone would want hurt a cat. However, she quickly learned first-hand the meaning of the expression, and how to be the best “Cat Herder”. We are grateful for her many years of service to AWW and wanted to recognize her with a one of a kind award! Thanks Rita!

Rita Grub receiving her one of a kind award
Rita Grub receiving her one of a kind award

Creative Volunteerism Award

Many of you have read about or seen the beautiful “America’s Amazon” infographic that was created earlier this year to highlight the amazing biodiversity that exists in Alabama (see http://wp.auburn.edu/aww/aww-infographic-2-0/ ). Jennie Powers is the designer behind the eye-catching and educational infographic. Jennie is as generous as she is talented, as she provided this artwork to AWW as a gift. By being shared widely on social media and via email, the infographic has not only educated thousands, but it also initiated a statewide conversation about biodiversity and some related statistics. Notably, for years it had been stated that Alabama has more than 77,000 miles of streams and rivers.  As a result of the infographic and ensuing communications, the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) conducted an updated GIS analysis of Alabama streams using much-improved digital stream data and the accepted mileage of streams and rivers in Alabama was increased from about 77,000 to over 132,000 miles! In gratitude for her contribution, AWW recognizes Jennie with the Creative Volunteerism Award.

Jennie Powers, Creative Volunteerism Award Recipient
Jennie Powers, Creative Volunteerism Award Recipient

AWW Lifetime Achievement Award
The climax of the Awards and Recognition Ceremony was the presentation of the AWW Lifetime Achievement Award to Dick and Mary Ann Bronson. Since its beginnings in 1992, Alabama Water Watch (AWW) has worked with phenomenal volunteers throughout the state who have given of their time, and talents to further AWW’s mission of improving both water quality and water policy through citizen monitoring and action. Dr. Deutsch awarded the first AWW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 to Mr. Ray Kelley, an environmental leader in north Alabama, a long-time AWW monitor, trainer and member of the AWWA Board of Directors. The award was initiated to recognize individuals who exemplified a spirit of watershed stewardship above-and-beyond the call of duty. For anyone who knows Dick and Mary Ann, it is clear why they are well suited recipients of this award. For over 30 years, they have dedicated themselves to volunteer service in the Lake Martin area and throughout Alabama. The Bronsons have worked selflessly and tirelessly over the past three decades, educating thousands of children and adults, participating in water quality studies, and advocating for clean water and a healthy environment, yielding many fruits from their labors, which continue to benefit and inspire us all. Thank you and congratulations! Read the full article about the 2016 AWW Lifetime Achievement Award here. 

The Bronsons being honored with the AWW Lifetime Achievement Award
The Bronsons being honored with the AWW Lifetime Achievement Award