Thanks to everyone who was able to gather for the 2019 AWW Annual Meeting at Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, AL! As always, it was a great opportunity to fellowship and hear about all of the great work AWW Volunteers are doing throughout the state.
Here are a few highlights from activities that took place on
June 21 and 22 as part of the event.
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!
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!
Sergio Ruiz-Cordova is the Data Coordinator of Alabama Water Watch and a 2019 recipient of the Spirit of Sustainability Award. This award was created to honor Auburn University students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are making significant contributions toward sustainability on campus or in the community. Having dedicated his entire career to researching sustainable solutions in water quality and quantity, Sergio meets and exceeds these qualifications.
4-H Students from Walker and Winston counties attended a water chemistry workshop in early October
On October 10th, AWW Staff – Sergio Ruiz Cordova, Rachel McGuire, and Sydney Smith – traveled to the beautiful Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, AL to conduct a Water Chemistry Monitoring workshop for Walker and Winston County students. We were amazed by how quickly the new youth monitors picked up the sampling techniques. These youth have a bright future ahead of them!