The face of the river…was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day.
Anyone can be a scientist, including you!
When you join our community science projects, you make a real impact on the Verde watershed and our communities. Because of you, the Verde River system can be healthy and continue to flow.
Why should you get involved in community science projects?
You might be considering a science and technology career; joining a community science project can help you decide if this is the career for you. You might be curious about the world around you and want to know more about our natural environment. You might be motivated by a desire to help conserve our flowing rivers and wildlands. No matter why you join in our community science projects, you are helping us expand knowledge about the world around us in the Verde watershed.
At Friends of the Verde River, our work is grounded in science. Science specific to the Verde can be difficult to fund. By involving community scientists, we are able to gather the necessary data for important projects while also building a strong community of river stewards.
We aim to ensure our community science opportunities are accessible to everyone in the community. We have opportunities for people of all ages, with or without backgrounds in biological science. We also have various levels of commitments for each of our opportunities. No matter your schedule, we can find an opportunity for you!
Sign up for our e-news and volunteer lists to get regular updates about these opportunities and more things happening with the Verde River! Once you sign up, we’ll be in touch with you.
Gully Busters is a community science project that uses the power of you to locate and measure gully erosion throughout the Verde watershed. What is a gully? A gully is a sharp, steep sided channel formed by the action of water rushing downhill. As gullies form and deepen, they cause many problems. Big gullies can even reduce the level of the water table!
As a volunteer, you would use the Gully Busters app to share location and general information about gullies you find. Friends will share the information collected with land managers to help plan and implement erosion control projects throughout the watershed.
Commitment level: Flexible, independent
Arizona Water Watch
Water Quality Monitoring
Water quality monitoring is a fun group activity that helps us to understand where we have problems with unclean and unsafe water. Your work helps Friends and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) gather vital information that can inform and justify project work aimed at improving water quality. Friends of the Verde River coordinates water quality monitoring along Oak Creek. As a volunteer, you will visit your assigned sampling sites on a monthly basis to take samples and then head over to our little laboratory in Cottonwood to process the samples. You might also help with lab processing and online data entry.
Commitment level: Monthly, in groups no smaller than 2 people for sampling. Data entry and lab processing assistance is flexible.
Verde Valley BioBlitz
The Verde Valley BioBlitz is hosted in conjunction with the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival and in partnership with the Science Vortex. The BioBlitz is for you if like to take pictures while you walk. You find, photograph, and identify as many species of plants and animals as possible during a BioBlitz. You don’t have to know the names of the plants or animals. You use the app iNaturalist to record your findings and the app does the identification. Then specialists confirm or refine the identification and your photo becomes a “research grade” contribution.
Our big BioBlitz takes place over two weeks in April and May. We encourage school aged children to participate through their classes and with the Science Vortex. Friends will lead multiple school groups on bioblitz walks. The information gathered in the bioblitz will help us gain an understanding of the biodiversity throughout the watershed.
Commitment level: Annually (April-May), independent or in groups
Important Bird Area Surveys
Worldwide, bird populations are changing and we don’t completely understand why. Climate change, loss of habitat, predation, overuse of pesticides are all possible reasons. But we need to know more to ensure we don’t lose our birds.
In partnership with the Audubon Society, Friends of the Verde River launched a pilot bird survey project in 2021. The Audubon Society has designated areas throughout the Verde Watershed as Important Bird Areas. We want to monitor these areas for changes in bird populations. Bird populations can be an indicator of the total health of the ecosystem in that area. By having this monitoring information, we can draw conclusions about the effectiveness of past restoration projects and inform needs for future projects.
This project is currently in the pilot phase. Further funding is required and we’ll let you know when we have openings for volunteers.