In 2021, AWW’s partnership with the USDA Forest Service (USFS) CitSci Fund expanded to the Talladega National Forest! The partnership began in 2019 and, in early 2020, AWW and USFS co-hosted water quality monitoring workshops in the Bankhead, Conecuh, and Tuskegee National Forests. These three workshops resulted in 77 volunteers trained as citizen scientists, 15 active volunteer monitors, and 19 sites sampled on 10 different waterbodies. Nearly 18 months later, 250+ data records have been received. More detail about sites and workshops is published on the Project’s StoryMap.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, adaptations were necessary as we implemented Phase II of the project in the Talladega National Forest. Some of these adaptations included the piloting of the Alabama Water Watch Water Chemistry Monitoring Canvas Course to accompany the previously-developed Intro to AWW and Bacteriological Monitoring Canvas Courses, hosting a kickoff Zoom event for prospective volunteer monitors, and minimizing indoor classroom time for the on-site Field Day.
TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST PROJECT SITES
The day before the Field Day at Cheaha State Park, AWW Staff Mona Dominguez, Sydney Smith, and Rachel McGuire visited the pre-selected monitoring sites on the Shoal Creek and Talladega Districts of the Talladega National Forest. During their site visits, they also collected bacteriological water samples.
In order to hit sites in both Districts, AWW had to get a little creative with sample plating and incubation (see below). Luckily, hova-bators can incubate in a vehicle!
The Field Day at the Cheaha State Park Interpretive Center was the first external group Cheaha had hosted at the venue! It was a packed house in the classroom with 13 USFS volunteer monitors-in training, 2 USFS staff, and 6 volunteer monitors from Lake Wedowee Property Owners Association along with new AWW Trainer, Frank Varisco. Frank led water chemistry practices to finish his AWW Trainer internship and we are happy to have him fully-onboarded!
The group spent the majority of the Field Day outdoors on the banks of Lake Cheaha where everyone conducted bacteriological sampling and water chemistry practices.
The Field Day wrapped up back in the classroom, where the group spent time discussing site selection and matching with monitors. AWW is looking forward to working with our new cohort of Talladega National Forest monitors!
If you are interested in monitoring on the Talladega National Forest (or Bankhead, Conecuh, or Tuskegee National Forest), reach out to AWW by calling 334-844-4785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.