Pathogens Monitoring 2021

The Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership, Rutgers Extension / Middlesex County EARTH Center and the Interstate Environmental Commission are pleased to solicit trained volunteers for our 2021 pathogens monitoring season!

May 12 in person training for new volunteers

We will host an in-person training for new volunteers running from 4-6pm on Wednesday May 12 (location TBD – either East Brunswick or Piscataway). Space is limited and registration required. With thanks to The Watershed Institute for grant support to allow for Spanish language translation for this session.

May 19 virtual “refresher” for returning volunteers

For those of you who have joined us in the field in prior years, we will also host a virtual training “refresher” on Wednesday May 19, 5-6:30pm. During this session we will summarize findings from 2020, provide an overview of goals for 2021, walk through sign-ups for the season, and explain a few new processes and procedures for the season.

Can’t wait to start thinking about pathogens monitoring and your role as a volunteer? We invite you to view the Webex recording of our 2020 virtual training. If prompted, please enter password: Pathogens2020

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about responsibilities and time commitment of a volunteer pathogens monitor:

Q: Do I need boots, waders, or other equipment? 

A: Boots, yes. You will also want clothing appropriate for the weather and sun protection. Don’t forget your bug spray and hats! We have several sets of waders of different sizes that we can loan.

Q: What time does the sample collecting begin and end?

A: We typically kick off between 8-8:15 AM. We meet at the Piscataway site, then caravan to the New Brunswick site, where some folks leave their cars. We then carpool to the remaining sites. Going from site to site takes about 4-5 hours depending on traffic. We then travel to the lab or at a drop off site. Depending on interest in the lab, we may stay as long as an hour to orient volunteers to what is going on there.

We generally return to the New Brunswick site by about 3pm.

Q: What about lunch?

A: Sometimes we grab a bite at a local restaurant either on Staten Island or in Perth Amboy. Please be sure to bring plenty of snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day. And don’t forget your water!

Q: Does everyone doing the collecting on a given day go to all the sites?

It is not always the case that all volunteers join us for the whole day. Some people choose just to help out with the sampling, and do not join us for the trip to the lab.

Q: What would I do as a volunteer monitor?

A: You will always have a team leader with the volunteers. The team leader is generally joined by three additional people. That seems about the right number of hands to do the work and help us keep to our schedule. In the field folks are absolutely given tasks! This includes recording site observation data, labeling sample bottles, taking samples (which can involve suiting up in waders), using the probe and documenting that data, keeping everything organized. This is quality controlled work and we do not send out volunteers on their own. The more hands the better and the faster things go. We ask folks to sign up for specific dates, and ask that they commit to going out with us for the full day.

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