Illinois RiverWatch Offering Training Workshops for Volunteers Across the State

Article by: Louise Jett,

ILLINOIS – The Illinois RiverWatch Network is offering Illinois residents the chance to train to become citizen scientists and join the network of more than 750 volunteers throughout the state who monitor the water quality of Illinois streams.

RiverWatch is a statewide partnership of organizations and individuals working to protect Illinois streams and waterways. Established in 1995 as a sub-program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Eco Watch Network, certified volunteers called “Citizen Scientists” examine indicators like stream habitats and diversity of macroinvertebrate species to provide reliable water quality data that can be used by scientists to determine how the conditions of streams are changing over time.

Today, RiverWatch is a program of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, a partnership between Lewis and Clark Community College, the University of Illinois and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Since its founding in 1995, more than 1,700 individuals have received certification through RiverWatch, and 750 stream sites have been established for annual water quality sampling. 

A series of volunteer training workshops will be held throughout the state this spring. The workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and combine both lecture/classroom time with field training in a local stream. Registration is $50 per person and must be paid in advance of the workshop.

“Our rivers and streams are one of the most important natural resources we have, providing clean drinking water, pollution reduction and wildlife habitat, while also playing a vital role in many sectors of the economy,” RiverWatch Biologist Matthew Young said. “The scientific monitoring of our streams is important to safeguard the future of Illinois rivers and streams.

“While there are government agencies devoted to stream monitoring, resources are limited to monitor all streams regularly,” Young said. “This is why RiverWatch Citizen Scientists are so important, they provide reliable scientific data on stream health where none previously existed, and also can provide broader watershed perspectives on the quality of Illinois streams. ”

Training workshops are for volunteers who have received no training or partial training through RiverWatch programs and who wish to become a part of the certified network of volunteers throughout the state. Anybody can become a volunteer, but registrants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

To register for a workshop, contact Young at (618) 468-2784 or For more information about RiverWatch visit

2014 RiverWatch Volunteer Training Workshops:
Sat., March 15 University of St. Francis
500 Wilcox Street, Joliet
Tower Hall, Room N111
Park in Main Lot behind Tower Hall
(815) 740-3360

Sat., March 22 Lewis and Clark Community College
5800 Godfrey Road, Godfrey
Haskell Hall, Room 101
Park in Student Parking in front of Haskell Hall
(618) 468-2782

Sat., March 29 John A. Logan College
700 Logan College Rd, Carterville
Workforce Development Building H, Room H-128
Park in Lot B
(618) 985-2828

Sat., March 29Benedictine University
1500 North Fifth Street, Springfield
Dawson Hall Room D11
Park on Street
(217) 525-1420

Sat., April 5John Wood Community College
1301 South 48th Street, Quincy
Building B
Park in front of the building
(217) 224-6500

Sat, April 12 Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve
Main Entrance: 109 S. Lake of the Woods Road, Mahomet
Izaak Walton Cabin
(217) 586-3360

Sat., April 26Sugar Grove Nature Center
4532 North 725 East Road, McLean
(309) 874-2174

Sat., May 3The Nature Institute
2213 S. Levis Lane, Godfrey
(618) 466-9930

Sat., May 3Black Hawk College
6600 34th Avenue, Moline
Building 2, Room 204
Park in Lot 1 in front of Building 2
(309) 796-5000
Thur., May 8University of St. Francis
500 Wilcox Street, Joliet
Tower Hall, Room N111
Park in Main Lot behind Tower Hall
(815) 740-3360

Sat., May 10Sommer Park
6329 N Koerner Road, Edwards
(309) 691-8423

Sat., May 17College of Lake County
19351 W Washington Street
Meet in C Wing, Room C225
Park in Lot 7
(847) 543-2000

Sat., May 31Severson Dells Nature Center
8786 Montague Road, Rockford
Park on site (stay to the Right at “Y”)
(815) 335-2915