Bill Deutsch and Sergio Ruiz-Cordova traveled to Arley, Alabama to train a group of Alabama Water Watch-certified volunteer monitors to become AWW trainers Saturday, September 12th. The AWW Training of Trainers Workshop was held at the Meek High School in Arley. The AWW Program has been training citizens throughout the state to test the water quality of their local streams, rivers, lakes, bays and bayous since 1993. Bill quickly realized that the exponential growth in volunteer monitors could not be sustained with just a couple of AWW trainers, and developed the Training of Trainer Workshop in 1995. Currently, the AWW Program has about 40 trainers statewide, and AWW-certified volunteer trainers conducted about 2/3rds of trainings within the past year. Since 1993, over 5,000 Alabamian have been certified as AWW water monitors.
Trainees, Larry Barkey (on left) and James Mason (in back) receive training materials from Bill Deutsch
The ranks of AWW trainers gained four new recruits at the Arley training, and two veteran trainers went through the Trainer Refresher Workshop. The workshop participants came from the Black Warrior, Coosa and Tennessee River basins, and represented five AWW monitor groups (listed below). New trainees included:
- John Kulbitkas representing Smith Lake Civic Association
- Larry Barkey representing Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy
- James Mason representing Huntsville Senior Environment Corps
- Loretta Weninegar representing Columbia High School, Huntsville, AL
Trainers that got refreshed included:
- Ray O’Donnell representing RSVP/Marshall County
- Isabella Trussell representing Logan Martin Lake Protection Association
Bill opened the workshop with an overview of AWW Program trends. He then reviewed the Executive Summary of the 2008 AWW Annual Report, and lead a discussion “Thinking about AWW in the Big Picture”, touching on comparative advantages of AWW monitoring, maintaining quality citizen water data, interpretation of the citizen data, better use of the data, and AWW success stories and local initiatives.
Other topics of discussion included volunteer monitor group dynamics, levels of AWW certification, role of the Alabama Water Watch Association, what is involved in becoming a trainer, planning an AWW workshop, preparing for a workshop, conducting a workshop, and following up after a workshop.
Special thanks to Ms. Susette Rohde, the Meek High School science teacher who assisted with training logistics and provided delicious home-made treats for the participants! To locate an AWW trainer near you and request a training workshop, go to the AWW website at www.alabamawaterwatch.org and click on the Monitor Resources menu, or call the AWW toll-free number at (888) 844-4785. And the next time that you’re out cruising on a beautiful lake, paddling down a picturesque stream, or fishing in a productive bayou, remember to shout out a big “Thank You!” to the selfless volunteer trainers – like John, Larry, James Loretta, Ray and Isabella, and the volunteer monitors who give hundreds of hours of their time to watch over and protect the rich aquatic resources of our State.