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.

Dave and Kerry at Burkes Pond, one of their 6 monitoring sites.

Meet Kerry and Dave Harlan, two of the Alliance’s water quality monitors on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula. They monitor a total of six sites, currently holding the record for most sites monitored by a RiverTrends monitoring duo! Five sites are located in Matthews County in saltwater or brackish streams. The sixth site is the freshwater pond on their property. They have been monitoring for RiverTrends since 2019.

Kerry and Dave are recently retired with two dogs and identify as “occasional empty nesters” with two young adult children. They moved to Gloucester County a few years ago after 13 years in Minnesota. They enjoy camping, touring, and exploring natural areas, indigenous cultures, and history. Kerry and Dave have experienced over 90 national parks across the country!

“We have gained a greater appreciation of the area by monitoring. Occasionally, we meet people while out monitoring who are interested in what we do and find that there is always a shared appreciation of the Bay. We love the Chesapeake Bay watershed and value it’s protection. The idea of contributing through community science was very appealing.”

Kerry and Dave enjoy visiting their monitoring sites year-round and getting to see the seasonal changes. They would encourage others to get involved in water quality monitoring because collective efforts like RiverTrends will help us as a society understand trends and impacts within the Chesapeake Bay watershed that impact us all.

Thank you, Kerry and Dave, for all of the time you spend collecting data and helping us better track the health of the Bay!