During June and July, members from the Marshall-Putnam 4-H Tech Wizards STEM club and the Saratoga Leadaways Community Club participated in the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center’s Illinois River Watch stream sampling.
Illinois River Watch is a citizen scientist program utilizing trained individuals to sample macro-invertebrates to determine the health of a stream. Sampled streams included Gimlet Creek in Sparland, and Sandy Creek and Shaw Creek in Hopewell Township. The youths used specialized nets and techniques to collect macro-invertebrates as small as 500 microns (0.02 inches) in length.
Along with collecting specimens, water discharge was measured and a habitat survey at all three sites was conducted. The specimens were then put under a microscope and sorted, classified and recorded. These results were then used to calculate the health and quality of the stream. Following confirmation of the results, the information is made publicly available at www.NGRREC.org/Riverwatch/.