This blog post was written by Marina Schwartz, regional coordinator for Florida LAKEWATCH.
Hi, I’m Marina! I’m one of the regional coordinators of the LAKEWATCH Program, and I’m here to explain what our role is and how we help connect our citizens to the science behind the program. The Regional Coordinator team is made up of myself, Dan Willis, and Jason “MO” Bennett. We work directly with volunteers, who we call citizen scientists, teaching them sampling techniques, answering questions, and sharing informational resources. We also work directly with the LAKEWATCH laboratory – coordinating (hence the title) the collection of water samples from around the state and the distribution of data back to the volunteers.
When a prospective volunteer contacts LAKEWATCH, we are their first point of contact. We explain the program and what volunteering entails and then set up an in-person training. These typically occur at the volunteer’s home, a park, or other water access point. At these trainings, we certify the new volunteer in LAKEWATCH specific techniques to sample the water, filter the samples, and store and transport their samples while documenting everything via the accompanying data sheet. We have phenomenal volunteers across the state sampling around 800 waterbodies, estuarine, and river sites!
We have phenomenal volunteers across the state sampling around 800 waterbodies, estuarine, and river sites!
Because volunteers are the heartbeat of the LAKEWATCH Program, we try to give back as much as possible. People volunteer for many reasons, but one thing they all have in common is that they love their waterbodies! We have annual meetings with all the volunteer regions where we provide dinner and give a talk on some aspects of lake ecology or management. This talk is different every year and we base the content on questions and input from our volunteer community. We also disperse the water quality data (and lots of other information) back to the volunteers, and present volunteers with hats, paddles, and shirts for varying lengths of service to the program; some of our volunteers have been sampling for over 35 years! We also dedicate time for volunteers to introduce themselves and connect with each other; usually chatting about their sampling experience and what’s happening on the water.
We have annual meetings with all the volunteer regions where we provide dinner and give a talk on some aspects of lake ecology or management.
If you have questions about LAKEWATCH, want to access our data, download free educational resources, or are interested in becoming a LAKEWATCH volunteer, you can visit our website or reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
Learn More About Florida LAKEWATCH
To learn more about LAKEWATCH, check out this podcast episode brought to you by the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, “Working In The Weeds.” In this episode, Florida LAKEWATCH Directors Mark Hoyer and Dr. Gretchen Lescord, talk about why this program is an example of successful citizen science. Subscribe to this podcast for more episodes on all things invasive and aquatic plants.
This blog post was written by Marina Schwartz, regional coordinator for Florida LAKEWATCH. Questions or comments can be sent to the UF/IFAS CAIP communications manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow UF/IFAS CAIP on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Subscribe for more blogs like this one.
UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Turning Science Into Solutions.
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