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 2020, we will not have Team Leader training. However, if you have been a Team Leader in past few years, we will be in touch to see if you can help! If you are interested in becoming a Team Leader in the future, please contact Eben

Chemical and Habitat Monitoring: Our volunteers have created an 18-year water quality data record and we are committed to doing all we can to keep the data set intact. In 2020, we will likely have three (3) monitoring sessions – in June through September – depending on when small group gatherings are possible with social distancing. We will not have May monitoring days for volunteer teams but anticipate that our staff will conduct the monitoring to preserve the data record. Contact Eben

Biological Monitoring: We may be able to have macroinvertebrate sampling days – in July through September – depending on social distancing criteria. If we miss sampling all summer, we will not be disrupting the data record. We are expecting to hold the winter lab season with all the criteria for social distancing. Contact Beth


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