As we all adapt to a new normal, staying connected is vitally important as in-person activities are paused. Like so many organizations, ALLARM had to cancel and postpone many events as a result of COVID-19. But every challenge presents an opportunity to try something new, like transitioning to virtual meeting and training spaces. There were several workshops in our spring schedule that ALLARM still wanted to hold that would introduce volunteers to visual and macroinvertebrate stream assessments as well as data uploads to the Data Explorer. Once the decision was made to move forward with these events, the conversations quickly turned to how to adapt virtually. On Saturday, April 18, ALLARM held a webinar introducing and exploring macroinvertebrate monitoring to its Stream Team volunteers. Participants joined in from around Pennsylvania and had an engaging virtual experience with the ALLARM staff. Leveraging online resources like macroinvertebrates.org, we explored unique characteristics of the different macroinvertebrate orders. This resulted in a dynamic 90 minutes with 35 participating volunteers. We really appreciated everyone’s energy, comments, and questions during the webinar and look forward to our hands-on trainings.
Additionally, ALLARM connected to volunteers in Columbia County to train them to upload data to the Data Explorer. For folks with a strong internet connect they joined live zoom calls and for others, they walked through the tool over the phone. Volunteers in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, whose chemical monitoring workshop has been postponed, instead received a training on the USDA Stream Visual Assessment Protocol, which will help them collect information about their potential monitoring sites. Finally, since monitoring is on pause until further notice, ALLARM will be launching a new Creek Course series, starting this month (May is all about the Bay). Thank you to all our volunteers and partners for your ongoing commitment and flexibility!