For the Beaufort Watershed Stewards it is our ambitions that have grown the most in the past several months.
Stream sampling, our first love, is our core activity. It’s been a couple of years since those heady, early days when we were setting up the program and making lots of trips into the field to pick the perfect sampling sites. Our recent decision to purchase another set of instruments and expand northward gives us another opportunity to mount expeditions into uncharted territory, (uncharted by us anyway) and to double the amount of data we collect every year. This feels ambitious but very do-able.
Our well monitor program has had its ups and downs but has stabilized nicely in the last seven months. The current crop of sensors are reliably racking up data and have been for some time now. We’re fascinated with the graphs of these well levels that show wells all along the highway going up and down in sync with rainfall (or lack thereof). Are ALL the wells in our area this responsive to rainfall? This is an ambitious question to ask. We plan to double the number of monitored wells this year to begin the task of answering this question.
We are also in the midst of rolling out our most ambitious project yet – mapping the hydrology of the hills above us. This is a project that will take years to complete but will provide valuable information from the very beginning. As we explore GIS (Geographic Information System) programs we totally geek out at the prospect of tying all our existing data, the new data we plan to collect, and the data we haven’t even thought of yet, together into one amazing, detail-rich map of our watershed.
But, while all this science activity and awesome tech stuff is happening, we are also dealing with the administrative tasks that support this kind of work. We are in the process of filing for charity status which will allow us to issue tax receipts when we receive donations. We are developing policies, documenting procedures and refining our communication protocols. We are always thinking about fundraising and always strategizing how best to use our limited resources. We have several committees and a handful of subcommittees. Most of us are members of several of these committees. This makes for lots of Zoom time!
It’s all exciting and inspirational. And when you consider that many of us are still working for a living, it’s nothing short of amazing. Will we be able to sustain this expansion? We certainly intend to. And this is the painful part of growth: we can’t always do all the things we want.
But out of challenge comes opportunity. There are plenty of openings for new folks to get involved and put their skills to work. Maybe you have zero interest in spending time in the woods, but you have a background in GIS software. Or maybe you’re an Excel whiz just wishing you had some reason to build pivot tables again. Maybe being out in the cold leaves you cold. But maybe you’re a retired administrator, project manager, lawyer or a former grant writer who is happy to help from the warmth of indoors. There are a million ways you might help, and the odds are good that we need you and your skills!
It was fun being a plucky band of citizen-scientists tromping through the bush focused solely on creeks and wells and being in nature. But now we’re growing into a mature organization. It’s a little painful, yes, but so very exciting.
To learn about how you can become part of our exciting endeavours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.