Be a watershed scientist

(families, friends & groups welcome)

Participate in important biology and chemistry monitoring through our popular Adopt-A-Stream program.

There are several ways to practice watershed science. And we train and equip you.

Be a biologist

  • collect aquatic organisms
  • learn field collection techniques and habitat assessment skills
  • learn about aquatic insects
  • identify benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs)

Be a chemist

  • monitor water temperature
  • measure conductivity
  • assess chemical pH readings
  • evaluate dissolved oxygen
  • measure turbidity
  • collect nutrient samples

COVID-19 Update

Team Leader Training: In 2021, we will plan to host small group Team Leader trainings beginning in early July. If you are interested in participating in our Adopt-A-Stream program, please contact Eben to get on the notification list for upcoming trainings. If you have attended one of our Team Leader Trainings in the past few years, we will be in touch to see if you can help!

Chemical and Habitat Monitoring: Our volunteers have created an 19-year water quality data record and we are committed to doing all we can to keep the data set intact. In 2021, we will plan on conducting all four (4) of our annual monitoring sessions, however we will be relying on staff and long-time volunteers to help with monitoring activities and to preserve the data record. Contact Eben


Biology Work

(get to know benthic macroinvertebrates)

Knowing which benthic macroinvertebrates (BMIs) are thriving is a strong indicator of a stream’s water quality. Some BMIs tolerate certain levels of pollution, others can’t. Collecting, identifying and recording BMI populations helps us determine what’s really in the water.

Using the standard California protocols, we collect field samples in the summer. Then—using microscopes in our monitoring lab—we analyze those water samples to identify and record types of aquatic organisms.

Biology Volunteer Fast Facts ~ see COVID-19 updates above



Collect stream samples in the summer

Lab work (analyzing samples) in winter


Field sampling 5 times each summer (June–Aug)

Lab analysis events twice a month (Nov–April)


We sample 4–6 streams a year

Lab work conducted at Truckee River Watershed Council offices; 10418 Donner Pass Rd; Truckee, CA

Who: Anyone age 16 and up. We train you. No experience needed.

Sign Up Here

or call Beth
530.550.8760 x1

Chemistry Work

(learn fieldwork measurement skills)

Just like people, a river’s health can be measured. What’s its temperature? Color? Chemical pH level? How does it smell?

Tracking the chemical and physical characteristics of a stream is important. It helps us learn what’s working—and where we can do more.

So volunteer as a family, a group or on your own. And get ready to wade in the water, use scientific techniques and have some fun.

Some families have been monitoring their adopted stream for years—inspiring the next generation of naturalists.

Chemistry Volunteer Fast Facts ~ see COVID-19 updates above



Measure water characteristics

Fill out field reports and take photos

When: Four times a summer for 2-4 hours (May-Sept)
Where: Get measurements from 25 different streams; including Donner Creek, Alder Creek and Little Truckee River
Who: Any age if with their family. Or anyone age 16 and up. We train you. No experience needed.

Sign Up Here

or call Eben
530.550.8760 x7