L&C/NGRREC℠ Welcome New RiverWatch Biologist

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Article by: Louise Jett, ljett@lc.edu

GODFREY – From an early age, Lewis and Clark’s new RiverWatch Biologist Matt Young has loved nature – especially rivers and streams. 

“I have always liked fishing, paddling and swimming in rivers and streams,” Young said. “I decided during high school that I wanted to study something that would lead me to a career involving rivers and working outdoors.”

While Young originally hails from Little Rock, Ark., his wife and her sister own a creamery in Greenville, Ill. – Marcoot Jersey Creamery. Young enjoys helping out with family business when possible, but also really enjoys working with streams.  

“I knew we would be staying in this area, but also knew that my dairy knowledge and experience were minimal,” Young said. “So, I wanted to stick with my aquatic biology background. I am pretty good at eating all the awesome cheese they make, though!”

Young, who is also a member of the environmental education team for the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, took over the reins of the RiverWatch program in August. 

The Illinois RiverWatch Network is a volunteer stream monitoring program that seeks to engage Illinois citizens by training them as Citizen Scientists. 

Each year at adopted stream sites in their communities, RiverWatch Citizen Scientists conduct habitat and biological surveys, including the collection and identification of small stream organisms called macroinvertabrates that serve as bioindicators of water quality.

“I like that RiverWatch is a program with a lot of room for development and growth,” Young said. “It is fun to see volunteers getting excited about their natural resources and taking responsibility for conservation.”

Right now, Young is collecting and entering data from all of the RiverWatch volunteers for the 2013 sampling season. He is also working toward on an online RiverWatch database to make data entry easy for volunteers and make trend analysis more accessible to the public.

“I would like to see the RiverWatch program grow throughout Illinois, with people from every area of the state having a chance to be involved,” Young said. “I would also like to see numerous scientific reports and studies come out of our data that promote stream conservation and rehabilitation.”

To learn more about RiverWatch or to become a volunteer, call Young at (618) 468-2784 or email him at mpyoung@lc.edu.

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