Waterwatch has been engaging with community volunteers since 1993. Looking after the environment is one of the many reasons why people become citizen scientists. Lets learn more about environmental volunteering from Corangamite Waterwatcher Helen Schofield.
Helen began Waterwatch monitoring in 2008 at Cowies Creek in Norlane and tested Lake Victoria’s outlet to Swan Bay. Her current monitoring site is at the Barwon River downstream of the Buckley Falls weir and rocky river sections close to the old paper mill in Fyansford.
“I enjoy being involved with Waterwatch at that site (Buckley Falls) … I love the area and have had a considerable involvement with Friends of Buckley Falls for the past 11 years, in monitoring both aquatic and terrestrial environments in Buckley Falls parklands and helping with weed control and revegetation in the surrounding river flats and slopes”.
Helen and her family always enjoyed being outdoors in the natural environment, so when illness curtailed her competitive sporting interests, she looked for an extra reason to keep returning to the ‘bush’ where the natural environment is often peaceful, usually beautiful, always fascinating.
As a result, Helen became a citizen scientist and natural environment volunteer.
“I want to make a difference at a time when the human population is expanding and encroaching on many beautiful natural places.”
On a practical note, Helen is enthusiastic and motivated about environmental volunteering that maintains or improves habitat for indigenous biodiversity– activities such as weeding, growing indigenous plants, planting and guarding the seedlings, then returning to remove the guards and see many of the plants growing up. These efforts assist with what council and parks and waterways staff are able to do to improve the condition of the environment.
Helen likes participating in the Waterwatch program, as she enjoys science and found Waterwatch to be an interesting established program to get involved in. Good water quality is important as is the stream habitat for wildlife. The Waterwatch program encourages participation in spring and autumn aquatic macro-invertebrate (waterbug) surveys that are both fun and interesting.
“It’s a fantastic reason to get out and about, as I like the variety observed in the environment with changing seasons and weather. I love hearing the water trickling or rushing over the rocks, the water birds one sees on the rocks in the river, reptiles on the river’s edge.
The training with other Waterwatchers (and Estuarywatchers) in the region can be very social. People share their own knowledge of other local waterways and what other environmental volunteer groups are doing as their bit to help the natural environment
“On a personal level, environmental volunteering results in meeting many like-minded and interesting individuals who have a wide variety of knowledge and experiences. It becomes easy to want to branch into other volunteering activities and events through these social occasions. If only I had enough time!”
Helen Schofield volunteers with Corangamite Waterwatch, ANGAIR, Friends of Buckley Falls, Friends of Bannockburn Bush, Friends of Inverleigh Conservation Reserve and several other groups. Helen also gives her time to survey fauna with Geelong Field Naturalists, the conservation group with ANOS Vic and ANOS Geelong (native terrestrial orchids).
In this 25th year of Waterwatch, the Coranagamite CMA thanks Helen Schofield and the other 70 regional Waterwatch monitors who give a little and change a lot this National Volunteer Week, May 2018