Agronomy/NRES Ambassador volunteers
to improve water quality
By Sayde Uerkwitz
Claudia Benitez is always looking for ways to give back to
her community. The Purdue Natural
Resources and Environmental Science junior from Dallas, Texas found a way
to give back this spring. She, and 250 other volunteers, participated in the
Wabash Sampling Blitz.
The Wabash Sampling Blitz is a volunteer program put on by
the Wabash River
Enhancement Corporation (WREC) since 2009.
The program’s goal is to assess water quality in the Wabash River
“I volunteered with a fellow Agronomy/NRES
Ambassador, Brittany McAdams,” Benitez said. “This program normally
conflicts with my class schedule so I have not been able to participate in the
past. I was excited that I was able to be part of a learning opportunity that
also allowed me to give back to the West Lafayette and Purdue communities. A
lot of student understand there is pollution in the Wabash River, but don’t
know how to help. This program is a perfect solution to that dilemma.”
Jane Wiercioch, undergraduate program coordinator and Agronomy/NRES
Ambassador advisor, said she loves seeing students volunteer.
“It is great seeing the ambassadors, really any of our
students, volunteer in community events,” Wiercioch said. “It is a great way to
give back to others and show appreciation.”
Each group of volunteers were assigned three locations where
water temperature, turbidity, nutrient levels and pathogen concentrations were
measured and water samples were taken.
Benitez said when arriving at each location, finding access
points to the streams involved miniature hikes through bushes, shrubs and hill
“When we returned to the Celery Bog, we tested the nitrate,
nitrite, pH and phosphate levels of our samples and then recorded them on a
large color-coded map where all the other samplers would also document their
findings. Needless to say, we had a blast and were sad when our time pretending
to be professional water quality testers came to an end,” Benitez said.
Benitez was kept informed about
programs like this through her courses in the Purdue College of Agriculture.
“The Wabash Sampling Blitz is an activity
I definitely recommend participating in; not only was it loads of fun, but it
also helps maintain important and current water quality data for the Wabash
River,” Benitez said.
Sample results and other WREC programs can be found on the WREC website.
Learn more about what the Agronomy/NRES Ambassadors are doing
by viewing their blog.