The biodiversity and wild areas of Western North Carolina speak strongly to my lifelong love of nature. While dinosaurs or sharks may have been my youthful preference, I’m quite content with small monsters in the form of aquatic invertebrates. They are just as captivating, but much easier to find.
I was lucky in 2005 to work for Rick Maas, who founded the Environmental Quality Institute in the late 1980s. Training community members to participate in stream and lake monitoring was novel in those early days, but Rick and his colleagues realized it is crucial for frequent and widespread testing. Measuring water conditions and stream life over time is meaningful information for conservation, since pollution is often invisible.
I continue to be motivated by the hundreds of volunteers and watershed professionals who have been working to improve water quality in these mountains. Folks have spent their time and energy on this for more than three decades, building on each other’s work.
EQI’s small staff coordinates volunteers and tests water samples in our North Carolina-certified laboratory. Funding to keep EQI’s lab equipped with modern water-testing equipment is key to continuing this high-quality science program. We also love the opportunity to put people in waders and get them looking for bugs with us in the streams.
— Ann Marie Traylor
Environmental Quality Institute