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Partnering with Extension for Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring

Linda Green 1, Elizabeth Herron 1, Kristine Stepenuck 2, Kelly Addy 1,
Arthur Gold 1, and Robin Shepard 2

1University of Rhode Island, Dept. of Natural Resources Science, 105 Coastal Institute in Kingston, One Greenhouse Rd., Kingston, RI 02881
2 University of Wisconsin, Environmental Resources Center, University of Wisconsin, 210 Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706

If you are interested in obtaining credible, comprehensive data on lakes while also educating local communities on water quality issues, volunteer water quality monitoring may be your answer. Cooperative Extension programs in the Land-Grant University System of each U.S. state and territory may be able to sponsor or provide assistance to such volunteer monitoring programs. The Extension network has community-based educators carrying out public outreach education. It can reach a very large audience with its message of how local citizens can improve water quality due to its local contacts and collaborations with numerous agencies, organizations, and citizen groups. Volunteer monitoring can easily grow in this environment. Currently Extension sponsors or co-sponsors 36 programs in the U.S. and its territories. We are part of a USDA-CSREES National Facilitation Project designed to build a comprehensive support system for Extension volunteer water quality monitoring efforts across the country. The goal is to expand and strengthen the capacity of existing Extension volunteer monitoring programs and support development of new groups. Our website (http://www.usawaterquality.org/volunteer/) contains results from an inquiry of existing Extension programs and a "Guide to Growing Programs" detailing information on program beginnings, training techniques, quality assurance, volunteer support tools, outreach tools and funding- with special emphasis on materials that are available through existing monitoring programs. By linking with Extension, volunteer water quality monitoring programs can gain valuable water quality data, help educate the public, encourage citizens to adopt "lake-friendly" behaviors, and bring university science to the community and community science to the university.

Keywords: volunteer water quality monitoring, Extension, training, quality assurance, outreach

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