And, the Survey Says?!

Apr 5, 2019 | Aquatic Invasive Species, Local Groups, Newsletters, Recreation

The content below is a selected article from our winter 2019 WaterWays newsletterDownload a PDF of the full Newsletter.

By Natalie Dutack

Education and early detection are both important factors in protecting our waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Maintaining a committed pool of volunteers is crucial. River Alliance of Wisconsin recently completed an in-depth research project in an effort to improve and refine volunteer programs that address invasive species.

Tracking AIS Knowledge

From July through September 2018, local conservation groups and their volunteers participated in a series of surveys, coordinated by River Alliance in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Environmental Resources Center. Conducted under a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the surveys were designed to determine volunteer motivations, learn about their experiences and identify their preferences for activities, as well as partner needs and program issues. River Alliance also initiated a statewide poll on AIS knowledge and water quality.

Overall, the results emphasized something we already know about Wisconsinites—we love our water.

  • Over 93% of those surveyed were motivated to volunteer by a “sense of duty” and a “desire to improve conditions of waterways.”
  • Volunteers are seeking hands-on educational experience and the opportunity to be a part of team.
  • Most (95%) think clean, healthy rivers and lakes are important to the quality of life in Wisconsin.
  • AIS and water quality were bipartisan issues—something that connects us all!

These surveys also revealed that low recruitment and return participation were challenges for local groups, while volunteers uniformly agreed that more engaging, informative resources and event opportunities were incentives for continued involvement.

Based on these results River Alliance will be introducing a suite of improvements to strengthen our current AIS programs, provide new activities, and create a model for use by partners. Keep your eyes peeled—we may be bringing these updated programs to a river near you!

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