Little Forks Conservancy hosts river volunteer training session

Little Forks Conservancy (LFC) has existed since 1996 to protect and improve Mid-Michigan’s natural environments, including over 3,809 acres of land, 20 miles of shoreline, and 10 miles of trails all over the state. Many volunteers are needed to keep its mission alive, and now you have a chance to help. LFC is hosting a volunteer training session on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Gladwin City North Park Boat Launch. 
 Leaders oversee the stream sampling events at one or two locations.
During this 1.5 hour-long training, volunteers will learn about collecting macroinvertebrates (animals without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye), and determining water quality. This Stream Monitoring Program, which has been around since 2015, invites the community to participate alongside the LFC conservancy efforts at the Cedar River. 
Land Steward/Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Erin Dodd works on stewardship activities including trail maintenance, habitat restoration, boardwalk building, and outreach activities like the Stream Monitoring Program. 
Dodd says the volunteer-led program involves teams made up of three separate volunteer roles: Leader, Collector, and Picker. “This training is for people who want a more active role in the Stream Monitoring Program,” she says. “Volunteers that wish to be Leaders or Collectors must complete a training once every three years. This training session is a necessary step to ensure the quality of data obtained at these events. Leaders oversee the stream sampling events at one or two locations. They lead volunteers to the site, fill out data, and support Pickers and Collectors with their tasks. Collectors are out in the water with waders using a net to collect the macroinvertebrates from the river.”
 Volunteers will walk in the river and witness different habitats.
Volunteers will walk in the river, witness different habitats, and sort through material, transferring them to sample jars throughout the training. Dodd says they will also learn about the Michigan Clean Water Corps, the organizer of the program.  “This volunteer-led program would not be possible without them,” Dodd says of volunteers. “Stream Leaders and Collectors are instrumental to an efficient and fun sampling day. Volunteers who attend Stream Monitoring events have a chance to learn about conservation issues, such as water quality and watershed health, and strengthen the community’s ability to protect natural resources.”
 This training session is a necessary step to ensure the quality of data obtained at these events.
Trained volunteers then are eligible to help Little Forks collect samples. They have two events each year, in the spring and fall. The 2022 Fall Stream Sampling is scheduled in October. Their volunteers are also eligible to help other organizations take samples. 
The training is recommended for children 8+ for pickers, but leaders and collectors should be adults. Volunteers can bring camping chairs, water, sunscreen, and bug spray, but waders will be provided. Interested residents can register for the event online, or by emailing Dodd ( or by calling the office: 989-835-4886 by Aug. 19.

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at