Volunteers are key to watershed improvement. Find a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule and interest level.
As we adapt to the realities of COVID-19 personal, family, and public health is a top priority. While the watershed appreciates volunteers, staff are less available to coordinate with volunteers due to most office time spent working from home. Out of the options listed here, volunteer activities will be coordinated according to interest and demand. All volunteer activities can be conducted independently, outdoors with social distancing, or among members of the same household.
The Watershed Action Volunteers meets twice annually (March and October) open to the public. Contact us via email or at (651) 204-6070 to request meeting access or learn about active projects and programs volunteers are working on. Meeting details may be found on the VLAWMO web calendar from the VLAWMO.org homepage.
Visit our schools page for maps, activities, and resources for students.
Specialized volunteer positions are currently full for 2021. New volunteers may accompany existing volunteers or inquire about volunteer roles for the future. Please contact staff at (651) 204-6070 for more information or questions. Sign-up to receive the Watershed Action Volunteers email list to get notifications of group or public volunteer activities.
Several volunteer activities are available without a formal volunteer position:
Macroinvertebrate monitoring is a popular method of assessing stream and lake health, identifying biological organisms that live in the water to draw conclusions about water quality. VLAWMO utilizes the tools and methods from the Leaf Pack Network to conduct this monitoring, and records the data according to the collection site on Monitor My Watershed.
Monitoring experiments have been successful with public school groups, home school groups, Girl/Boy Scouts, as well as college students. They're a great way to introduce youth to environmental science or even gain fieldwork and research experience. The format is accessible to a variety of age groups due to its ability to monitor on either a broad level or with a high level of detail and specifics. With a bit of preparation, study, and familiarity with the tools, you too can conduct a successful monitoring effort while helping us track and record the status of our watershed.
1. Identify a 3-week period in which to conduct the monitoring experiment. After a Leaf Pack/Rock Pack gets placed, it sits for 2-3 weeks until it is retrieved. Upon retrieval, volunteers sort and record the pack's contents. Monitoring is available whenever open water is present at any of the monitoring sites.
Complete and submit a volunteer waiver for everyone participating.
2. Identify a location out of the 8 monitoring sites in the VLAWMO watershed. 2 locations in North Oaks are private access for North Oaks residents, or working with North Oaks residents. 1 location requires staff assistance to access. 5 locations are accessible to the public, but several of these require navigating steep slopes. Staff are available to recommend which location is best suitable for your abilities and needs.
3. Review completed experiments at various site locations to see what's been recorded in the past, and what you can likely expect to find. Staff can help connect you or your group with existing volunteers to work collaboratively.
Monitoring Sites: On the left of the page, check "Leaf Pack" and "Vadnais Lake Area WMO." Click an icon identified as VLAWMO monitoring site, and click "view data for this site." On the resulting page, scroll to the bottom and find "Macroinvertebrate data at this site." Click "view" in the submitted experiment rows to view the results and pollution tolerance index scores.
4. Plan where to conduct the sorting and data collection after a pack is retrieved. Some parks have picnic tables, some areas have enough space to set-up a folding table, and some areas require bringing the pack to another nearby park or home to analyze.
5. Rent a Leaf Pack/Rock Pack kit from the VLAWMO office for up to 4 weeks.
6. Record data either online directly using the Monitor My Watershed website, or fill out and submit a data collection form provided by staff. If math and science education are desired for your group, staff can provide calculations for groups to work with their own data and draw their own conclusions according to established research methods in this field of study.
7. Return the kit and celebrate your accomplishment as a citizen scientist!
To prepare, use the following resources to familiarize yourself or the group/youth you're working with. Contact staff at (651) 204-7060 for questions and to inquire about kit availability.