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.