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Stream Monitoring

We often refer to our stream monitoring program as "Stream Team" it is an extension of the MICorps program and assists local and state governments, research institutions, and other community organizations gain a better sense of river health in order to quickly recognize and address pollution problems.

Become a Citizen Scientist! 

 Want to get involved or have any questions? Contact us at or call the Friends' office at (989) 723-9062. 

 What is Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Sampling?

The number and type of bugs found in a stream are an indicator of river health. Based on the bugs collected at a testing site, we're able to give that stretch of river a water quality rating according to standards set by the Michigan Clean Water Corps program (MICorps). The Shiawassee Stream Team is an extension of the MICorps program.

With an emphasis on collecting high-quality data, groups of volunteers from around the watershed are trained to collect samples of benthic macro-invertebrates (water bugs!). We refer to these groups as Stream Teams. The data collected each year builds a long-term record that assists local and state governments, research institutions, and other community organizations gain a better sense of river health and to quickly recognize and address pollution problems.

Our goal is to help communities and motivate local governments to protect water quality by providing them with data on the river's health...and to have fun while doing it! 

What is "Sampling" and what would I have to do, exactly?

Sampling Teams test a site two times per year, in the spring and in the fall. A Team Leader is assigned to organize activities at each site by assigning other volunteers the job of either a Collector, Picker, or Runner.

Collectors borrow a pair of waders and an aquatic net (provided by Friends) and wade through sections of the river, kicking up sediment and scooping up bugs that live on the river bottom. The Collectors then put these samples of sediment into trays for the Pickers, who comb through the sediment with forceps looking anything that moves. Any bugs found are placed in jars for identification at Bug I.D. Night if we are unable to identify them on site. The Runners assist by going back and forth between the Collectors and Pickers, bringing the finding from the river to the area the Pickers are working at and bringing empty trays over to the Collectors in the river.

Who can participate?

These Teams are geared toward adults, students, and older children; due to the need for careful data collection. If you have questions about whether or not your child may participate, please call the Friends' office.

Our Vision...

By testing water quality in different regions of the Shiawassee River, Sampling Teams are creating a clearer picture of watershed health. Through local Stream Teams, communities are also sharing resources and knowledge that enables them to improve the entire Shiawassee River System. Our goal is to create Stream Teams in every region of the Shiawassee River Watershed. 

Curious to see what to do before signing up?  Watch this video! 

 Our program follows a Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP) to ensure that our data is as accurate as possible. View our QAPP here. 

 Are you a teacher who wants to get your class involved in a water quality lesson?

We offer both hands-on science in the field and classroom lessons for K-12 schools in the Shiawassee watershed. We focus our lessons on water quality, food webs, and river ecology.

  • Fourth grade digital lesson plan - Benthic Bugs and Bioassessment.pdf
  • Macroinvertebrate sorting/identifying in the classroom
  • Middle and High Schoolers can participate in our stream monitoring program at various sites throughout the watershed

For more information contact us at


Contact Us:

Phone: (989) 723-9062

Mailing Address:

Friends of the Shiawassee River
PO Box 402
Owosso, MI  48867

Office Address:

Friends of the Shiawassee River
538 N Shiawassee Street
Corunna, MI  48817

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