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Reach Out and Touch Someone

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

The pry-bar slipped, creasing my forehead. I saw stars momentarily, then felt the warm trickle of blood flowing down the bridge of my nose. I pulled my handkerchief from my pocket and pressed it against the cut to slow the bleeding.

"Got a problem," I commented to no one in particular and climbed out of Spring Creek, where volunteers were busy installing fish habitat, part of a U.S. Forest Service, Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers project.

Ed Sullivan, one of the volunteer stream workers and a registered nurse, grabbed me by the arm and sat me down in a chair. He replaced my handkerchief with a pad of sterile gauze.

"Hold it tight, now."

Dr. Charles Brooks, also a stream worker and doctor of nephrology at the VA hospital in Columbia, climbed out of the stream, rinsed his hands, looked at the cut and smiled at me.

Why do doctors do that?

"You need a couple of stitches, Spence. We've got suture material here. We can take you to the emergency room in Rolla, or I could take a couple stitches here. What's your call?"

Volunteers are like that. They come in all shapes and sizes, genders and occupations. Some are retired; others young and employed. They all have one thing in common: an interest in making our natural world better.

The opportunities to volunteer, to become part of our natural world here in the "Show-Me" state, are almost limitless.

Maybe the largest group of volunteers are the many stream teams scattered throughout Missouri. The Conservation Federation of Missouri, along with the Department of Conservation, laid the ground work for "Stream Teams," an interactive network of individuals and groups across the state interested in streams. The Roubidoux Fly Fishers, Stream Team 1, kicked the program off by adopting Roubidoux Creek, a trout stream running through Waynesville to the Gasconade River. Since then more than 800 teams and 40,000 volunteers have adopted streams and sections of streams all over the state.

According to Mark Van Patten, stream team coordinator for the Conservation Federation of Missouri, stream team activities are limited only by the imagination. "Teams range from single individuals, adopting a stream running through their land, to coalitions of stream teams, banding together whole watersheds, as advocates for healthy stream ecosystems.

"Stream teams empower ordinary citizens to assume responsibility for preserving, conserving and restoring our stream resources by active participation.

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