U-Idaho Extension to Deliver Master Water Steward Training to Sandpoint and Boise

Monday, July 2 2012


By Donna Emert

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – University of Idaho Extension’s Master Water Steward program, IDAH2O, got a boost in 2012 with a $77,000 EPA Environmental Education grant.

The funding will allow the popular citizen-science training to reach more Idahoans.

The grant also funds the development of an online web mapping service to host water monitoring data now being collected by some 75 trained volunteer water stewards in Idaho. More volunteers will be certified through trainings this year in northern Idaho and in Boise.

The next water steward training session will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, July 20 at 1904 N. Boyer Ave., Sandpoint.

In Boise, the training is available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, July 27 or Saturday, July 28 at the WaterShed Environmental Education Center, 11818 West Joplin Rd., Boise.

The eight-hour sessions provide four hours of classroom instruction and four hours of outdoor training. Each eight-hour session allows participants to earn master water steward certification.

Participants are urged to pre-register and to bring outdoor clothing. Cost for an eight-hour session is $20, due at the door.

More trained volunteers means the IDAH2O mapping service can offer a wider breadth of data, says extension educator Ashley McFarland, IDAH2O program director.

“The online map is vital for sharing the data that are collected, and informs users about the quality of their local waterbodies,” she said. “The more streams our volunteers monitor, the more complete the picture of Idaho’s water quality becomes.”

The EPA grant allows University of Idaho Extension to offer additional trainings statewide. For the past two years, data collection has focused on northern Idaho’s waters.

“We're reaching out to potential water stewards in the Boise Valley, as well as those in northern Idaho,” said McFarland. “Our goal is to certify an additional 25 volunteers in southern Idaho this summer as we continue to grow our volunteer pool in the North.”

Inspired by the university’s popular Master Gardener program, the Idaho Master Water Stewards, now 18-months old, has certified volunteer monitors for more than 40 stream and lake sites in Idaho’s Panhandle.

The university program also will benefit educators and students across the state: because of strong interest among the state’s K-12 educators, U-Idaho’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences now offers continuing education credits for teachers who wish to incorporate the program into their classrooms. Participants must request continuing education credits ahead of the course to ensure they are recorded.

Each spring and fall, a special ‘snapshot’ event allows Master Water Steward volunteers to bring water samples in for laboratory analysis of nitrate-nitrogen, total phosphorus, total coliform and E. coli bacteria – parameters they cannot test in the field. The samples are analyzed at the U-Idaho Coeur d’Alene water lab.

The recent spring 2012 snapshot included 15 stream sites. To read the current data analysis snapshot for northern Idaho, go to: www.extension.uidaho.edu/idah2o_home.asp.
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The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.