The Science of Water Quality
Written by: Amanda Monteverde, EPIC NPS Member
My name is Amanda Monteverde and I am an Americorps Member who just joined the American Conservation Experience EPIC program at the end of April 2022. I mostly spend my days collecting water samples that contribute to data for long-term stream and river monitoring programs at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Obed Wild & Scenic River, and Blue Ridge Parkway.
For the past three months, I have been working for the National Park Service Appalachian Highlands Network (APHN) Inventory and Monitoring Network as a hydrological technician. Since starting this position, I have spent my days collecting water samples, calculating flow in streams and rivers, monitoring environmental changes, and exploring streams and creeks at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Obed Wild & Scenic River and Blue Ridge Parkway. Throughout my three months here, I have learned the process of what it takes to contribute data to a very rigorous scientific program through a federal agency. Being part of a small team of scientists, I monitor 5 continuous water quality and monitoring sites every month and 42 quarterly-sampled discrete water quality sites across 3 different National Parks.
During my short time here, I have been given the opportunity to work independently in collecting measurements and performing equipment calibrations and tests in a lab setting. Using my prior academic background, I have been given the opportunity to collaborate with other scientists to adjust and update our scientific field methods and laboratory procedures, contributing to editing and adding on site descriptions and photos, and even site protocols. Even with only being here for three months of my six-month term, I have also been given the opportunity to cross train with other scientists in the park. For example, I have been able to work with botanists and park rangers to learn and build skills outside of my field knowledge.
With just the short amount of time I have been here, I have learned so much more than I thought I would since joining the Appalachian Highlands Network. I have enjoyed this experience immensely and am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn as much as I have. After graduating in December of 2021, this ACE EPIC position has been a great opportunity in learning new skills about my field of interest, growing as an individual, and a nice footing in a step to starting my career. I traveled across multiple states to complete this opportunity and since being here, I have met a numerous amount of wonderful people and colleagues within the park and have seen so many breathtaking views. I spend my off-time hiking, rock climbing, watching movies, and exploring the many opportunities the Appalachian Mountains has to offer. This ACE EPIC program has been the most life-changing and informational opportunity that I have been given. I am so happy that I accepted the offer when I did, because it has been the best and most informative experience I could have asked for.