The University of Olivet and Eaton Conservation District Receive Stream Monitor Program Funding for Local Watershed

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The University of Olivet, in partnership with the Eaton Conservation District (ECD), received a Stream Monitoring Startup Grant from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) to establish an Eaton County Collaborative Stream Monitoring Program.

The monitoring program will consist of stream sites in Eaton County within the Upper Thornapple River watershed, which is part of the large Grand River watershed. The annual program will sample sites for macroinvertebrates (aquatic larval stage insects) in the Thornapple watershed across Eaton County. The number and variety of insects collected at each site can indicate overall stream health and water quality.

This program will contribute data to a statewide database that provides important information to conservation districts and other natural resource organizations in watershed planning and management efforts.

The monitoring program will have a structure that fosters collaborative learning between volunteer citizen scientists from the community and college students. Local volunteers interested in becoming citizen scientists in this new program can contact the Eaton Conservation District executive director by email at sue.spagnuolo@macd.org. Citizen scientists will work with college students enrolled in an annual Stream Monitoring Intensive Learning Term (ILT) course at The University of Olivet through Community Stream Collection Days. The course will launch in May 2022. Students will learn and practice macroinvertebrate sampling techniques (the collection of aquatic larval stage insects) in the classroom and in the field. Beyond the collection days, there will also be an opportunity for citizen scientists to join in a macroinvertebrate identification session at the College.

Erin Pavloski, visiting assistant professor in the Natural Science and Mathematics Department at The University of Olivet, is looking forward to this work. She said, “This is a wonderful opportunity to not only prepare students for future careers through learning in the field but also to connect them to citizen scientists in the community, showing that learning and environmental stewardship is never-ending and that collaboration is important for many conservation-related projects. I am looking forward to developing this program in partnership with the Eaton Conservation District, working with local citizen scientists and collecting data that can help plan improvements for watershed health.”

Sue Spagnuolo, executive director of ECD, said, “Eaton Conservation District’s mission is to promote and encourage cooperation with other individuals, groups, organizations or agencies in an organized effort to conserve and improve the natural resources in Eaton County. I can’t think of a better way to successfully achieve this goal than partnering with The University of Olivet to encourage and educate our community in protecting our natural resources.”

Through this collaborative structure, the program is designed for ongoing engagement of citizen scientists and students, and longevity in collecting macroinvertebrate data throughout the county each fall and spring. MiCorps was established by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and is administered by Michigan State University, in partnership with the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and Huron River Watershed Council.

Since 1844, The University of Olivet has continued to provide its students with rewarding educational experiences that will help them gain the knowledge and skills for success in their future careers. The College and the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Department value cooperative learning experiences, volunteerism and building partnerships within local communities. The University of Olivet offers biology and environmental science majors and minors, and students will greatly benefit from participation in this collaborative stream monitoring program.

This year, the Eaton Conservation District is celebrating its 75-year anniversary. Since 1946, the District has been a unique local unit of government that provides natural resource management services, utilizing state, federal and private sector resources to solve today’s conservation challenges. Its services include protecting groundwater, watershed planning, woodland and wildlife improvements, conservation agricultural programming, soil health information, stream bank stabilization, conserving and restoring wetlands, and providing tree seedlings, conservation books and information workshops.

To learn more about The University of Olivet, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.
Erin Pavloski, epavloski@uolivet.edu
Sue Spagnuolo, sue.spagnuolo@macd.org


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