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MiCorps conference engages volunteers in water quality monitoring

Panelists at MiCorps conference discuss how volunteers can help.

This year's MiCorps conference marked 15 years since the program began and highlighted the work volunteers have done to improve water quality statewide.

MiCorps helps citizen volunteers monitor water quality of inland lakes to document changes over time. It consists of two main programs - the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP) and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). The CLMP is the second oldest volunteer lake monitoring program in the country.

Marcy Knoll Wilmes, project leader for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) statewide volunteer water quality monitoring program, applauded MiCorps’ growth since its inception and recognized volunteers for their commitment to the program during its annual meeting Nov. 19 at the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich. Wilmes also awarded volunteers who had more than five years of service to the program with Certificates of Recognition.

Keynote speaker Jeremy Geist shared details about work that Trout Unlimited conducts to restore and protect coldwater resources throughout the state. He discussed equipment and methods that citizen scientists use to assess temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and other parameters. Geist also shared monitoring that Trout Unlimited conducts on invasive species such as New Zealand mudsnails and ways to prevent their spread by decontaminating equipment.

Volunteers had the opportunity to attend either a lake- or stream-focused session in the morning. The lake session discussed how volunteers can share the story of their lake with others, while the stream session focused on microplastics monitoring and lake sturgeon work.

The afternoon provided opportunities to attend training workshops on either Plants of Michigan's Lakes and Streams or Aquatic Insect Identification. The conference concluded with a discussion on volunteer recruitment and ways that organizations can successfully develop a volunteer program.

More information about MiCorps is on its website.

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