Why I volunteer: Becoming a citizen scientist

Jim Clark

Jim Clark has volunteered with MountainTrue since 2014, collecting water samples for E. coli testing along the French Broad River. Today, he also collects microplastic water samples and conducts monthly plastic counts at Pierson Bridge.

What inspired you to volunteer with MountainTrue? 

I was impressed with MountainTrue’s hands-on approach to improving our regional environment and its advocacy and outreach to state and local government leaders. I was inspired to do my part as a “citizen scientist.”

What have you learned about the individuals you serve?

When people see me taking water samples for E. coli, they often ask about the condition of the French Broad River. The test results are posted online at theswimguide.org. A good rule of thumb is that when the water turbidity is up, especially from runoff after a big rain, then the E. coli levels are likely to be elevated. Obviously, people should avoid swallowing the water or swimming with an open skin lesion.

What has been the greatest reward of volunteering for the nonprofit?

The greatest reward is seeing the data we’ve collected used as evidence for actions to clean up the river and reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.

What advice would you offer those thinking about volunteering?

“Citizen science” is just one of the many volunteer opportunities at MountainTrue. Check out their website to find your niche.


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