River Assessment Field Team (RAFT)
A lot remains unknown about the water quality in our local streams, since our agency partners are limited in the number of sites they can sample. We can help!
The RAFT Program
The River Assessment Field Teams (RAFTs) are individuals, family members, or small groups of friends, colleagues or neighbors that are willing to donate time to help strategically assess local water quality. Data collected through this program will:
- Help provide a more complete picture of our water quality by teasing out pollution hot spots and measuring trends over time
- Help our Alliance direct educational and cost-share resources to areas with bad water quality
- Help agencies like the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and county health departments fill in knowledge gaps and address concerns
RAFT volunteers will be provided sampling equipment, instructional training, assistance with data reporting, and even a few volunteer appreciation benefits!
Citizen science is a powerful tool to understand environmental conditions and help make positive change!
Want to become a RAFT Volunteer?
RAFT Volunteers are citizen scientists trained to conduct water quality sampling following a specific protocol. With some time and dedication, anyone 18 years of age and older with moderate physical fitness can become a RAFT volunteer. Before becoming a RAFT volunteer, you must first complete the online RAFT training program. This will provide an important foundation for understanding what’s involved in water sampling as well as the science behind the various measurements you will take in the field.
Because the RAFT program is designed to meet more rigorous sampling standards than other volunteer programs (such as Hoosier Riverwatch), the training requires a notable amount of time to complete, 5-6 hrs. RAFT training is set up in ten short (20-30 min) modules, and each module has a short quiz at the end. Quizzes are designed to help reinforce important elements from the module that will help you collect reliable samples in the field during a RAFT event. If you are already a certified Hoosier Riverwatch volunteer, RAFT training will be very intuitive for you (but is still required).
RAFT training will remain available online year-round. Successful completion of all ten RAFT training modules is required prior to participating in a RAFT sampling event. You do not need to complete all ten modules of the training in the same session. You can save your quizzes as you go, and then return at another time to complete the remaining modules. You will, however, need to complete all ten modules within 30 days or start over. This ensures that you are current on RAFT sampling protocols, which may evolve over time.
We anticipate the online training modules to be available sometime in February 2021. If you would like to become a RAFT volunteer please email firstname.lastname@example.org and a White River Alliance staff member will contact you with more information about the program. A small number of volunteers are already sampling this summer in order to work out any kinks in the program and establish baseline data for the sites. We look forward to hosting RAFT sampling events on Sundays beginning this fall!
Sampling Event Schedule & Training
RAFT sampling events will occur at least once a month on a Sunday from roughly 12:30-4:00. Each event will target one of three areas along the White River or its tributaries in Marion or Hamilton Counties. The southern RAFT sampling area includes Decatur, Perry, Wayne and Center Townships of Marion County, the central area includes Washington and Pike Townships of Marion County and Clay and Delaware Townships of Hamilton County, and the northern area includes Noblesville and White River Townships of Hamilton County.
You do not need to participate every month – you can choose the event(s) that is most convenient to you. You will need to sign-up in advance for each month’s event since a maximum of five (5) teams with three-four (3-4) people can participate in each event. You will either pick a team or be assigned to a team when we convene at the kick-off location for each month’s event. You will start at a common location and return your samples to that same common location at the end of the event. Since RAFT events require meeting in a group and working on small teams, we will be carefully planning around COVID-19 circumstances.
Thank you for making time to learn about water quality sampling and helping us gather important data!
- River Assessment Field Team (RAFT)
- White River Paddle Days
- Dragon Boat Races
- Indiana Water Summit
- Clear Choices Clean Water
- White River Festival
- StormWater Action Teams (SWAT)
- Trained Individual Contractor Certification
- Stormwater Landscape Maintenance Training
- State of the Waters
- Regional Stormwater MS4 Program