Missouri Streams: In Good Hands
City for the past 20 years for a different reason. “My goal was to collect 15 years of continuous monthly sampling, which is needed to show if best management practices affect water quality,” Steiert said. “This is done now, but retirement allows me the luxury of extending the timeline.” While Steiert chose a more intense monitoring schedule to follow, all data provided by trained volunteers is valuable.
By 1995, many Stream Teams began to think big, and it was clear that they needed help tackling larger challenges. Enlisting talents of nearby Teams for bigger projects led to the creation of the first Stream Team Association, Scenic Rivers Stream Team Association (Team 674). Currently, there are 21 Stream Team Associations comprised of Stream Teams that work together for the benefit of their watersheds. Association activities vary broadly and can include educational watershed festivals, watershed management plans, or community rain garden projects.
Acting as a unified council of Stream Team Associations is the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition (MSTWC). Founded in 1998, the watershed coalition is a not-for-profit organization made up of association representatives who strive to promote collaboration and communication, provide funding opportunities, and serve as an advocate for stream resources on behalf of Stream Teams. Recently, The coalition partnered with researchers from the University of Missouri to tackle the daunting task of organizing 17 years of volunteer biological and chemical data into two State of Missouri’s Streams reports. These reports enable the Program to share the results of volunteer monitoring efforts with the public and water quality volunteers. The coalition also assists Stream Teams with tire disposal through DNR’s Scrap Tire Program using the Chuck and Sharon Tryon Revolving Tire Fund, and allows associations to use their nonprofit status to receive donations and grants.
Stream Team volunteers are always hungry for a deeper understanding of stream resources that can help them to speak up for waterways and educate others. Stream Team staff look for ways to provide more technical information to Teams in a manner that is fun and hands-on. As a result, in 1997 the Stream Team Academy was established as “a university without walls” for Stream Team volunteers wanting to learn more about stream ecology and issues. The first academy workshop was Understanding Streams, a two-day watershed management course that included an educational float on a nearby stream. Since then, workshops have been added on many topics, including crayfish, mussels, aquatic insects, scientific drawing, invasive species, and more.
Several Stream Team Associations have also jumped in to organize academy workshops, including a GIS workshop hosted by Show-Me Clean Streams (Team 523), and a Plywood Canoe Building workshop provided by Scenic Rivers Stream Team Association. Stream Team Academy workshops are open to all Stream Team members and are held throughout the state.
As we look to the future, there is no doubt that Stream Teams will continue to find new ways to care for their adopted streams and make positive changes in their communities. Recently, rain barrel and rain garden projects to reduce stormwater runoff are becoming more popular, and Teams are finding creative ways to reach their peers and elected officials using social media. Stream Teams are proof that Missourians care about clean water and know their actions can improve their quality of life, even if they have to get a little muddy along the way.
As Governor Ashcroft said at the Roubidoux cleanup in 1990, “You’ll know you’ve succeeded when tens of thousands follow in your footsteps.” The Stream Team Program is a model of a successful stream conservation program that enhances the lives of Missouri citizens. Here’s to another 25 years of citizen-led education, stewardship, and advocacy for Missouri streams!
Visit mostreamteam.org to learn more about the Missouri Stream Team Program, and “Like” Missouri Stream Teams on Facebook at facebook.com/mostreamteams.