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citizen science stream team

Stream team volunteers carrying their gear across a bridge.
©Watershed Education Network

The Citizen Science Stream Team is a volunteer based group of folks from all walks of life in the Missoula community. The team includes families, young professionals, retired scientists, college professors, AmeriCorps members, students from the University of Montana, and even a few high school students wanting to learn more about water monitoring and river ecology. Prior knowledge and/or experience in stream monitoring is not necessary, and we welcome folks with diverse environmental backgrounds to teach all of us something new! 

Protecting and ensuring the health of our streams and watersheds is everyone's responsibility. It takes a collaborative network of dedicated and educated citizens working together to better understand the importance of a healthy watershed, raise awareness about water issues, prevent water pollution, and improve rivers and streams.

Stream Team is supported through the Open Rivers Fund,

a program of Resources Legacy Fund supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 

Video by filmmaker and photographer, Jason Jaacks 

join the team

Volunteers collecting data from the stream.

After attending a training (contact Stephie, or take a look at our WEN events calendar), you can join our Level 1 Stream Team and/or our Level 2 Stream Team. Once you find your niche, you can join a group of dedicated volunteers that go out each Sunday afternoon during the spring, summer and fall, given safe stream conditions. As a volunteer you can gain experience and help the team collect important data on the physical properties of water, water quality (chemistry), and biological assessments. 

Stream Team is led by Stephie Novak.

Level 1 Stream Team is currently monitoring Rattlesnake Creek to help establish baseline data, with goals to monitor additional streams throughout the Clark Fork Watershed and establish long-term trends in all of these streams. 


Level 2 Stream Team uses higher level stream monitoring techniques in targeted streams to supplement agency-collected data for certain projects (read more below).

All are welcome to join Stream Team to help collect important data and learn about the importance of a healthy watershed. 

Data collected by Stream Team

level 1 & 2

Aquatic macroinvertebrates
A stonefly nymph on a spoon.

The diversity and abundance of aquatic organisms in a stream are indicators of the water quality. By sampling aquatic insects, we can evaluate whether the stream is providing the habitat and water quality necessary for certain species to thrive. The presence or absence of certain aquatic insects tells us a lot about the stream.

Above: Common stonefly (Plecoptera)


field days


volunteer hours


of cross sections sampled


bugs identified


rocks measured & counted

at a glance
2022 Level 1 data collection

Level 2 Project

Volunteers setting up a cross section of a stream.

In 2019 WEN’s Stream Team Level 2 started focusing their monitoring efforts on Rattlesnake Creek, in Missoula, MT, within the Clark Fork River Watershed, to provide critical data for our partners Trout Unlimited (TU) & Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MT FWP). 

In 2020 Rattlesnake Creek saw it's first big dam removal and habitat restoration project to restore the creek to natural processes. This project has created an ideal opportunity to provide data to our partners while engaging our citizen scientists in a higher level of stream monitoring. Citizen scientists have been joining Aissa to collect important stream data to share with these partners.

Rattlesnake Creek dam removal in progress.

Time lapse of rattlesnake dam removal

During this project we are proud to also be partnering up with the UC Davis, Center for Community and Citizen Science to help guide them as they write a manual on Citizen Science in regards to dam removal. Check out this article written about  this incredible collaboration with UC Davis!

2022 Winter Speaker Series: 

Stream Team 2021 data share presentation

In this presentation tune in to the WEN Staff, Deb Fassnacht, Aissa Wise, and Stephie Novak as they share about the data Stream Team has collected in our time in the Rattlesnake, as well as learning about the programs we have and some of the history of WEN!


field days

(Rain or shine)


of stream walked for cross sections 


bugs identified


individual rocks measured & counted

at a glance
2021 Level 2 data collection


of herbace0us ground cover counted


of shrub cover counted


 of tree cover counted


individual trees measured & counted

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