KWF’s Stream Watch Coordinator, Brandon Drzazgowski, adds his thoughts regarding Stream Watch:
The Stream Watch program aims to continue a mentality of good stewardship, based on the understanding that we need to care for our natural resources in order to continue enjoying them. Stream Watch works to do so through its volunteer base. This year, Stream Watch is working on integrating more volunteer appreciation into our programs, hoping to let our volunteers know that we value their time and dedication. For instance, we are awarding gift cards at Trashercise Tuesday to the volunteer who collects the most cigarette butts in the allotted two hours. We have our trained ambassadors doing patrols at our usual sites, and have added a dipnet informational booth at the Kasilof River, similar to the existing Kenai River dipnet fishery booth. New signage and monofilament collection stations have also been installed at the Kasilof River.
This year we are also working to expand the Stream Watch Volunteer program into younger age groups. In the program’s history, youth engagement has been limited to a small number of single-day events and ambassadors are required to be 18 or older to participate. This summer we are hosting the high school student-oriented Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) organization for two days, and are conducting a stewardship day with Apogee Adventures for the first time.
With a generous grant from ConocoPhillips Alaska, over the next year Stream Watch will be expanding to include a new Junior Ambassador program for 6-12th graders. The Junior Ambassador program will aim to strengthen environmental awareness and education in our future leaders, and promote community voluntarism.