Carol carefully balancing on her paddle board while prepping to measure water clarity with a secchi disk. The fixed line has measurement markers that will tell her how far down light is able to penetrate down through the water column.

Meet Jack and Carol Kauffman, new residents of the Middle Peninsula of Virginia after moving from their longtime Pennsylvania homes in Montgomery and Berks Counties in 2018. Jack, a retired drug discovery scientist, and Carol, a retired teacher, chose their new home along Bland Creek, a tributary of the York River, because of the access is provided to water and nature. Soon after their move, they became involved with the Friends of the Dragon Run conservation group and met the members of the Virginia Master Naturalists, inspiring them to join the Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists chapter. Through this training, they were introduced to the RiverTrends monitoring project with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

            “Each month we take our paddle boards (or kayaks in cold or windy weather) from our home out to the York to do sampling at our station, YORRIV21.5. We also test the water in the main channel of Bland Creek behind our house, station BLACRE0.6. Sampling is a good excuse for getting out on the water every month (especially in cooler weather). It has been interesting to observe the changes in temperature, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen levels that have occurred over the course of our collections. Sampling has made us more aware of the water quality and the things that can alter it.  We hope that as we continue to monitor, we will see a positive change.  Hopefully, the turbidity and oxygen levels will improve and with those changes we will see increases in aquatic life on the Bland and York Rivers”

Jack and Carol collect water samples at two locations on Bland Creek and the York River

Jack prepping his dissolved oxygen sample from his paddleboard.

Water monitoring work has also inspired Jack and Carol to become involved in the oyster restoration program through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They have volunteered to help create man-made reefs and are currently oyster gardening! Jack and Carol would encourage others to become community scientists for a fun way to help scientists monitor changes in our natural world, while providing the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature.

Thank you, Jack and Carol, for all of the time you put into collecting essential data for the Chesapeake Bay and getting outside each month to collect your samples by paddleboard and kayak!

Volunteer citizen scientists have been monitoring water quality as part of the RiverTrends project for over 35 years. Each month, monitors gear up to collect observational data and measure the trends of their local streams, including air and water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, bacteria, and salinity. These dedicated monitors give us a direct connection to communities we work with watershed-wide, providing invaluable local knowledge and support.