The League has just added a new Save Our Streams Coordinator to its water program staff. Rebecca Shoer will be focusing on engaging and organizing volunteers in the mid-Atlantic region. We asked Rebecca to share a little about the experience she brings to the League's work.
I've always loved to learn – especially when it comes to the natural world around me. When I was growing up, I could usually be found outside tromping through woods and fields, imagining my future self working somewhere in the remote jungle. However, after working with everything from tadpoles to finches to elephants, I’ve discovered that my real interest lies in exploring the intersection of humans and nature. How can I work with communities to inspire interest in and passion for the local environment?
My experience with citizen scientists started in an unlikely place: rural northern Thailand. After graduating from college, I spent a year working in a small field lab researching Asian elephant cognition. In addition to conducting research, our group also ran educational programs and hosted volunteer Earthwatch teams. I learned how to talk about science, nature, and the environment to everyone from retirees to young professionals to high school students. I also learned that anyone can have the same passion to protect the environment that I do – and that they'll leverage their passion into action, if someone only shows them the right tools.
After my time in Thailand, I returned state-side to run two turtle conservation projects for Mass Audubon in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. There I was lucky enough to work with over four hundred volunteers to protect the nests of the state-threatened Diamondback terrapin and rescue cold-stunned sea turtles from winter beaches. Not only was I coordinating and training our volunteer corps, I was learning right alongside them. As the field seasons progressed, it was incredible to watch brand-new volunteers transform into skilled communicators, sharing their new-found knowledge with friends and passersby.
The most gratifying part of my work with volunteers has been watching how small, dedicated groups can grow into a passionate network of local advocates. Citizen science empowers communities to ask questions about the world around them, to learn, and to take action.
I'm looking forward to working on the Izaak Walton League's Save Our Streams citizen science initiative, and helping people protect clean water in their communities. Clean water is something that we all need and can all take steps to protect. Save Our Streams provides an incredible opportunity to find out exactly what is happening in the water around you, and what you personally can do to ensure it’s safe for humans, plants, and animals alike.
I'm thrilled to be learning alongside the League's Clean Water team. I can’t wait to meet our incredible network of stream monitors, and I’m excited to engage with volunteers to teach them the monitoring skills they need, help them use their data in a meaningful way, and be a part of their journey towards becoming stewards of their environment.
Learn more about Save Our Streams
Cover image: Rebecca helps a cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtle.