The AWW Tiger Giving Project Mini-Grant Program was established back in 2017 (through AU’s Tiger Giving Day) to assist AWW certified monitors and monitoring groups with purchasing water quality testing supplies.
So far, thanks to the mini-grant program, we’ve loaned out 11 water chemistry test kits to monitors across Alabama, and one of those AWWesome monitors is Anne Mathews! Let’s get to know a little more about Anne…
Anne was certified in Water Chemistry Monitoring in October 2017. She monitors two sites with the Friends of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve monitoring group.
Why did you want to get involved with AWW?
The presence of the endangered Vermilion Darter (found only at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve) assisted greatly in the efforts to preserve portions of the creek. I joined the Friends of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in 2014 and got serious in 2015 when I became Treasurer.
One of our program meetings was by the Alabama Rivers Alliance. As Martha Hunter was talking about the AWW Program it suddenly hit me that water testing was one way I could really help promote the Preserve. My Master’s in Clinical Laboratory Science and experience with laboratory procedures were a perfect fit and the chemistry and bacteriological testing were something I had enjoyed in my early years as a Medical Technologist.
I know that for most people, swimming in the creek in the summer is their favorite part of the Preserve and we get a LOT of inquires about the purity and safety of the water. I felt that becoming a Water Watcher and reporting monthly testing results would be a great way to reassure the public and promote the Preserve.
We need to keep an eye on the water quality to ensure the Vermilion Darter stays a long time, since it helped us to preserve this gorgeous part of Alabama.
Tell us a little bit about your favorite monitoring site, and why you chose to monitor there.
I love the peaceful spot close to where Turkey Creek enters the Preserve. There are some nice rock steps leading to the water where I can set up and easily reach deep enough water.
It is important for me to monitor the water entering the Preserve. I also signed up for ADEM Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) notices, so if there is a spill upstream form the Preserve I can determine if it affected the creek. So while it is important to test at the entrance to the Preserve, it is very important to our users to know what impact the many, many children of all ages playing in the creek have on the cleanliness of the water. So that dictates a spot below the play area of the falls. But I plan to only do bacteriological testing there and upstream during the summer.
How long have you been involved with Friends of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, and what is your favorite part about the Preserve?
I first saw TCNP in January of 2011 when my now-husband took me there to do some bird watching. I fell in love with its beauty. I vowed to devote my public service time when I retired to volunteering there. I got my hiking club involved and we helped scout out the proposed hiking trail. [When] I was retired and got a group together and we met weekly for four months to build the Thompson Trace, a 1.4-mile trail along the ridge. The next year, we built the Hanby Hollow Trail, 0.9 miles long.
The time I spent there made me understand that this restorative, beautiful place needed the support of as many people as could help. It is a Forever Wild, Freshwater Land Trust property that is preserved for all of the people of Alabama.
Although the hiking trails are my favorite part of the Preserve, I also love the beauty of the falls. It is a great place to sit on a winter’s day and watch the water rush by.
Applications are still being accepted for Tiger Giving Day Mini-Grant funds. Read more about the Tiger Giving Day Mini-grant Program HERE.