Water Action Volunteers in the field


Planning Training


  1. Early Planning for a Training Event
  2. Planning the agenda
  3. Finding trainers and advertising
  4. Communicating with participants
  5. Communicating with and training the trainers
  6. Keeping yourself organized
  7. Educational Materials

Most locally sponsored WAV stream monitoring programs start out the monitoring season with a volunteer training session. This section of the WAV website is designed to help you with the process of planning a local training session. Use links at the right if you know what resource information you're looking for, or continue reading on this page for step by step help in planning your training session.

Early planning

If your monitoring program is new, you will want to start early (late in the calendar year) to think about an upcoming spring training session. Some things you should think about early-on are: How many monitors and sites are you comfortable supporting in the coming monitoring season? Do you know what equipment your monitors will need to have during the monitoring season? Do you have equipment on-hand, at a local Watershed Education Resource Center, or available through a school or other source that monitors can use during the monitoring season or do you have to secure funding to purchase equipment for your program?

At about the same time, you should begin to think about where the training session will take place. Many groups use local parks as training sites since they often have bathroom facilities and sheltered areas available. Some groups work with private landowners who have a stream in their yard, while other groups work with nature centers or schools to secure a suitable site for training. You should think about the following when choosing your site: Is there access to a wadable stream, a sheltered location, and bathroom facilities at the site? Is the site similarly accessible for monitors from across the area your monitoring program represents? Is there a cost associated with using the site? Is there a minimum or maximum number of people who can attend the training based on site constraints?

Deciding when the training will happen and who will be involved as trainers can be decided a little bit later, but remember that both will be in demand during the the spring training season, so don't wait too long to decide.

Planning the agenda

Part of the decision about when a training will happen relates to the agenda that is planned. In the past, WAV stream monitoring training sessions have traditionally been held on a Saturday or on two evenings during the week. Sample agendas for each style of training are included on the site for your reference. There are several key elements that should be included in a training session. These include an introduction to WAV and your local program, safety and liability issues (access a sample liability waiver by clicking here), and information about stream ecology and how our land uses affect water quality. You'll of course want to include training modules for each of the parameters that volunteers in your program will be monitoring. This will ensure everyone has been introduced to methods and has had the opportunity to ask questions about each parameter. WAV has developed methods for monitoring six parameters, including water temperature, dissolved oxygen, stream flow, turbidity, biotic index and habitat. You can view all methods' fact sheets and data sheets from this website. You can order these materials for your training event using the online order form on this website. Please indicate in the comments section of the order form how many people you expect at your training session so we can accommodate your request.

Finding trainers and advertising

Once you have decided when your training will occur and how long it will be, it's time to think about about advertising for the event. If you are looking for interested citizens to monitor with your program, a few months in advance you may want to place an informational press release in the local newspaper to alert people to the possibility of becoming a volunteer stream monitor . You may also want to send a direct mailing announcing the training to groups that may have an interest in participating in the program. The WAV Coordinator also has monitoring training posters (2.6 MB pdf file) available that you can personalize and put up in your local area to advertise your training. You can also submit the pdf available here to a local print shop (80 lb matte printing is recommended).

Based on your agenda, you will need to consider how many trainers you will need for the event and decide who you will ask to be trainers. Continuing programs often utilize seasoned volunteers as trainers. New programs turn to local professionals. You can contact the WAV Coordinator for assistance in finding local trainers, as there have been train the trainer sessions held every year since 2001. Also the WAV Coordinator is also always willing and eager to be part of local training sessions, so don't forget that option.

Communicating with participants

If all has gone well, you should have participants to communicate with a few weeks before the event. You should plan to send a letter to participants to inform them of the details of the training, what they should bring, how they should dress, etc. A sample contact letter is available for you on this site. You will note that the letter indicates that participants need to sign a liability waiver in order to participate in the program. Be sure to include a copy of the waiver with the letter. You should also plan to include a map to the training site with the letter. You may be able to do this via email if you are confident your participants are e-savvy. Experienced program coordinators have found that email is a blessing if sudden changes to the training plan come up (such as inclement weather), so it's a good idea to have information on hand for participants whenever possible.

Communicating with and training the trainers

For each trainer you have lined up to assist with the training session, you will need to communicate the same information as you shared with the participants. In addition, you will need to let them know how much time they have allotted for their portion of the training, where they will be stationed specifically at the training site, who will provide equipment they will use during the training, and the general organization for the day. You should plan to have your trainers attend a train the trainer event and/or hold an on-site pre-training meeting at which a run through of the event can occur and trainer questions can be addressed. The WAV Coordinator is available to help train trainers, and a number of train the trainer sessions are being planned for 2003 that your trainers might attend. There are also tips for trainers that should be reviewed by each trainer before the training.

Keeping yourself organized

As may have become clear on this page, there are many things that the person planning a training session needs to consider and to keep organized. To help you stay organized we have made a checklist available that you can use to keep track of who, what, where, and when your training will take place. There is also sample evaluation and an equipment checkout form that you can use to keep track of to whom you have checked equipment out and what equipment each person has checked out.

Educational materials

There are a number of educational materials available for you to provide to your volunteers. There is more information about these materials available on the educational materials information page.

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