It’s always encouraging for educational conference organizers when engaged participants are still hungry for more information, even after a 90-minute session or workshop. And that’s exactly what transpired during the Mid-Atlantic Region Volunteer Monitoring Conference earlier this month at the National Conservation Training Center. Session leaders routinely were approached following presentations and asked additional questions by attendees eager for more knowledge. “The sessions were an hour and a half in length and most of the time people wanted them to be longer,” said DEP’s Tim Craddock.
Craddock, from the DWWMs Nonpoint Source Program, helped organized the conference with help from regional representatives from the volunteer monitoring community. The conference was funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was the first time West Virginia had hosted the event since 2005. In addition to West Virginia, participants came from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. More than 80 people from watershed groups, government agencies, education and other organizations attended the conference. “It’s targeted toward anyone involved in volunteer monitoring,” Craddock said. “It’s an opportunity to network and familiarize groups with what is going on regionally. It’s a way for us to touch base and learn from each other.”
Sessions were conducted on a wide range of topics, with an emphasis on current issues such as shale gas development. Craddock and the DEP’s Glenn Nelson conducted a session on macroinvertebrate identification; while the DEP’s Nicki Taylor, Tomi Bergstrom and Sebastian Donner led a session on Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. “Our agency was well-represented and I received positive comments about the speakers we had from the DEP,” Craddock said.
Craddock said he’s confident the event resulted in a more informed group of citizens, better prepared to do what’s best to promote a healthy environment. “I want people to participate in an intelligent manner in the state government process and help us decide what the correct choices are for the environment.”
Note: The article is courtesy of Tom Aluise, DEP Public Information Specialist. A version appears in the August edition of DEP's indepth newsletter.