Dedicated lake lovers of Wisconsin: your week is almost here! The 38th annual Wisconsin Lakes Partnership Convention will be held on Wednesday, March 30 through Friday, April 1. It will take place at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center located at 1001 Amber Avenue in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
The convention celebrates the work of the DNR, Wisconsin Extension, Wisconsin Lakes and volunteer groups along with water and environmental citizen scientists. It is held in conjunction with the 7th Citizen-based Monitoring Conference and the Water Action Volunteers Annual Symposium occurring on April 1-2.
As coordinator of the Water Action Volunteers Network (WAV), a program coordinated through a partnership between the Wisconsin DNR and UWEX, Peggy Compton couldn’t be more pleased to see these three meetings taking place at one convention.
“I’m excited for this year’s convention and bringing together volunteers from the Citizen Lake Monitoring Network, the Citizen-based Monitoring Network and the WAV Stream Monitoring Program. With this being the 20th Anniversary of the WAV Stream Monitoring Program, the timing is perfect to be ‘Celebrating Volunteers’,” said Compton.
The overarching theme is finding a way to help citizens become action-oriented to accomplish goals in their own communities around the state, and celebrating the ways they have already been able to do that.
Compton has seen this action first-hand during her time with the WAV. “Our volunteers often initially get involved to learn more about a stream or water resource that they have a connection with. They continue their stream monitoring because it is an opportunity to collect and report data that will make a difference in the management and ultimately the health of our streams and rivers,” said Compton.
She also notes that WAV programs have seen tremendous changes throughout its 20 year history, and the Stream Monitoring Program was home to more than 500 volunteers in 2015, and is still growing.
This year’s keynote speakers, Kris Stepenuck and Alyssum Pohl, will both share thoughts on getting involved in volunteer efforts.
Stepenuck, secretary of Citizen Science Association and the former WAV program coordinator in Wisconsin, will speak on volunteerism and the difference it can make in decision making processes and community improvements.
“The outcomes for natural resources policy and management that have been achieved by volunteer water monitoring programs like WAV are numerous – from identifying illicit discharges into waterways to helping to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species. Volunteers in theses and similar programs are making their mark in their communities to protect and improve water quality for years to come,” said Stepenuck.
Pohl will recall her kayak trip down the entire length of the Mississippi River, taking water samples along the way to be tested for clarity and plastic content.
“I am delighted to represent those who care about our shared natural world and what we can do to keep it healthy for generations to come. I hope that my experience kayaking down the Mississippi will serve as an example of citizen science,” said Pohl. “I’m looking forward to sharing my experience and hearing about other citizen science projects from conference participants.”
Attendees can also participate in hands-on workshops that cover topics like communications and shoreland zoning, and get a chance to network with other volunteers.
Registration for the convention is $265. If you are unable to attend the entire conference, feel free to sign up for just the events you can make. The convention kicks off Wednesday morning with workshops starting at 9:00am.
For more information and to register, head here. See you in Stevens Point!
This post was written by Molly Sequin – UWEX student outreach assistant and Life Sciences Communication major at UW-Madison.