MADISON — The important role volunteers play in Wisconsin in assessing water quality in lakes and rivers and keeping tabs on wildlife from frogs to owls to dragonflies, takes center stage this week in Stevens Point.
Hundreds of lake association members, volunteer stream monitors and other citizen scientists are gathering for their annual conferences through April 2, and this year, they’re meeting together at one time and one place to celebrate volunteers and mark some special milestones.
The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey turns 35, the Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network turns 30, and the Water Action Volunteers celebrate their 20thanniversary.
“Wisconsin is a national leader in citizen science and we are fortunate to have so many great volunteers,” says Sanjay Olson, administrator of the DNR Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division.
“Their information and insight are critical to keeping Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers healthy and protecting our native plants and wildlife. We couldn’t do the job without them and we are glad to have this opportunity to celebrate them and thank them.”
Fittingly, on March 31, the longtime leader of the Water Action Volunteers and a founder of a fledgling national citizen science organization, returned to Wisconsin to give the keynote address.
Kris Stepenuck, an assistant professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, was Thursday’s keynote speaker. From 2001-2015, she coordinated Wisconsin’s Water Action Volunteers Stream Monitoring Program and currently serves as secretary of the national Citizen Science Association. Stepenuck will share her research on the impacts of citizen volunteer efforts on water quality and other issues.
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention runs through April 1 and the Water Action Volunteers and Wisconsin Citizen Based Monitoring Network meet April 1-2. All are at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn and Convention Center. Find agendas, register and more online.