How Do I Get Started with Adopt-A-Stream?
Do you want to help protect your local waterways, but don't know where to start? Review the points below and find out how easy it is to get involved with Georgia Adopt-A-Stream!
Get acquainted with the program.
Georgia Adopt-A-Stream is the state's volunteer water quality monitoring program. Our volunteers select a site along a local stream, wetland, lake, or estuary to adopt. They regularly monitor their site and submit monitoring data to our online database. Types of monitoring include chemical, bacterial, macroinvertebrate, visual, and amphibian monitoring. For additional details about the program, contact the State Office.
Determine your goals with Adopt-A-Stream.
Take your time and think about why you want to monitor, which site you might like to adopt, what type of data you want to collect, and who may be interested in using your data. Email us at AAS@dnr.ga.gov if you need advice or guidance, and we can help guide you through this process.
Attend a workshop and get certified.
If you are interested in learning more about AAS or wish to adopt and monitor a site, we suggest attending one of our training workshops. Depending on the type of monitoring you wish to conduct, you may be required to obtain certification through one of our workshops before you can begin collecting data.
Form and register a group.
It is always a good idea to have another set of hands when monitoring. Forming a group, even if it is just with one other person, will help you manage data collection and equipment maintenance, as well as make sure you are staying safe while out at your site. Once you and your partner(s) have created accounts with Adopt-A-Stream, you can register your group in the AAS database. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the Volunteer FAQs.
Select a site to adopt.
Georgia Adopt-A-Stream does not assign sites, so look around your neighborhood or local park and find a stream, wetland or lake that you would like to learn about. We suggest you find a waterbody that is easy, safe and legal to access. Once you've picked a site, register it in the AAS database. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the Volunteer FAQs.
In order to monitor, you need the proper equipment! You can choose to buy the equipment yourself, but we suggest first reaching out to your local AAS coordinator. Many of the coordinators have equipment available to loan, especially if they are working for a local authority. Additionally, you can contact the State Office to request monitoring equipment.
Now that you've gotten certified, formed a group, selected a site, and obtained equipment, you can begin monitoring your site! Refer to the workshop presentations or manuals to determine how often you should be conducting each type of monitoring (monthly, quarterly, or annually). After each monitoring event, always remember to enter your data into the AAS online database! If you need guidance or assistance entering data, check out the Volunteers FAQ page or email us at AAS@dnr.ga.gov.
Host an outreach event!
While not required, we highly recommend that our volunteers participate in some form of community outreach to help fulfill the program's goal of increasing awareness of water quality issues. This could mean conducting a sampling demonstration at a school, starting a community rain garden, or simply getting some people together for a river cleanup. Many local government programs or water organizations may be willing to help promote, run, or provide supplies for your event. Feel free to email the State Office if you would like to be put in contact with one of these groups or for any advice on organizing an outreach event.
Take it slow and ask questions.
Becoming a part of Adopt-A-Stream is the beginning of a life-long learning experience. Biology, chemistry, geology, land use, policy, education and community spirit all influence your stream, wetland or lake. So start slowly, ask questions, talk to your friends and neighbors about what you're learning, and simply enjoy yourself!