Stream Monitoring Awards honors three Wisconsin volunteers

UW–Madison Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Wisconsin Volunteer Stream Monitoring Awards. These awards recognize individuals and groups for their exemplary efforts in stream monitoring and water-quality related activities, support of stream stewardship, and a commitment to developing partnerships and sharing their skills and water quality data to benefit Wisconsin streams and rivers.

This year, two volunteer groups were awarded the 2021 Wisconsin Stream Monitoring Award in the “Adult” category: Paul and Kathy Byrne, and Connie Hagen.

As a part of the Crawford Stewardship Project and Water Action Volunteers (WAV) programs, Paul and Kathy Byrne have been stream monitoring volunteers for almost 10 years, most recently monitoring eight different stream sites across Crawford County. In addition to their own monitoring, Paul and Kathy have coordinated with other members of the Crawford Stewardship Project to receive water samples and drive them to the laboratory for testing. Over the years, they have assisted with recruiting and training new stream monitoring volunteers as well as providing refresher trainings for existing volunteers. Their dedication to stream stewardship has included participation in community meetings, networking with statewide organizations, writing letters to the editor, and speaking at public hearings to address water quality issues in the region. As John Delaney wrote in his letter of support:

“They are an integral component of Crawford Stewardship Project’s water quality monitoring efforts and advocates for water quality education in our community.”

Connie Hagen has been monitoring Door Creek in Dane County for eight years since 2014. Connie is an active member of the Friends of Lake Kegonsa Society (FOLKS), where she advocates for water quality monitoring in the Lake Kegonsa watershed. Her advocacy and leadership with FOLKS has brought a greater awareness of and support for stream monitoring in the Lake Kegonsa and Door Creek area. Connie’s samples have assisted with the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network’s adaptive management plan. She’s also a citizen lake monitoring network volunteer and has assisted in several native plantings with FOLKS to reduce run-off into local waters. In the words of her nominator, Addie Schlussel with the Rock River Coalition:

“We are lucky to have a super-volunteer like Connie who not only participates in monitoring herself, but also supports other volunteers and champions the stream monitoring cause. She is kind, generous with her time and resources, and passionate about water quality”.

UW-Madison Extension and the Wisconsin DNR also recognize monitoring milestones for volunteers who have dedicated their time to monitor water quality in their local streams for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. This year a 20-year milestone was reached by Jayne Jenks, Conservation Specialist for the Land and Water Conservation District of Waukesha County. Jayne is a WAV Local Coordinator who trains and coordinates volunteers. Jayne took her first WAV training at Riveredge Nature Center in 2002, and she was able to start training volunteers on her own soon after. Jayne has worked with many groups such as the Rock River Coalition and the Pewaukee River Partnership to promote stream monitoring and stewardship. Jayne loves to see the variety of creatures that call our rivers and streams “home,” and says it is most fun when she can share that information with others.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021, the Water Action Volunteers program at the UW-Madison Division of Extension supports more than 500 volunteers who monitor the water quality of their local streams across Wisconsin.