Join Our Stream Team

Stream Team is a group of community members who perform real science that matters! When you join our Stream Team, you are helping track the health of our rivers and streams by collecting water samples and other data in the field and in the lab. From donning waders and using nets to collect aquatic insects living in the water, to peering through a microscope to discover the hidden features of macroinvertebrates, Stream Team offers a role for every level of participation. 

Stream Team events take place three times a year - in January, April and September. Our volunteer teams are led by an experienced Stream Team Captain and typically last two hours. Stream Team Captains bring all gear and tools that are needed and are trained in the water collection process. 

No need to be an official scientist to join the team- we’ll teach you all you need to know to participate in this fun, engaging opportunity to help protect our waterways. Ready to join the team? Contact to register for an upcoming monitoring event or to become a certified Stream Team Captain. You’ll earn exclusive Stream Team swag by participating in our events or becoming an official Stream Team Captain!

Help Us Monitor Water Quality

What do aquatic bugs, or macroinvertebrates, tell us about water quality? Each species of macroinvertebrate tolerates pollution differently. Some are sensitive to pollution, meaning finding them is a sign of a healthy river. Other types of macroinvertebrates are tolerant of pollution and can indicate poor water quality. Data over many years tells the story of a stream's health.

Once we have completed the water collection activity and stream monitoring, we assign the stream a score ranging from “very poor” to “excellent”, based on the amount and types of bugs found. Streams receive an "excellent" score when we find aquatic organisms water pennies and caddisflies. The lower the score (Excellent = 0.0-3.5), the healthier the stream. We use this data to track water quality trends over time. This tell us which waterways are need of protection and which waterways are in need of restoration. 

If you're looking for opportunities to support your river, this is for you! If you want to get involved, this is how you do it!

Download Score Card

Fall and Spring Monitoring - April & September

Each spring and fall, Stream Team volunteers are assigned to various streams across St. Clair County and, by using waders, nets, and buckets, collect macroinvertebrates, or aquatic bugs, that live under rocks, leaves, and other stream habitats. Volunteers may also participate in the hunt from shore by digging through sediment or drawing a sketch of the stream site. Data collected from monitoring events are analyzed for trends in stream health over time and help guide actions by municipalities and other interested stakeholders.  

Our current stream monitoring sites include:

Winter Stonefly Search - January

Winter stoneflies are an aquatic insect that spend part of their life cycle living in water and are extremely intolerant to pollution and poor water quality conditions. Unlike other aquatic insects, the winter stonefly emerges as an adult during the coldest months of the year when most fish and predators are slow or inactive. Stream Team volunteers are assigned to one of our stream monitoring sites to seek out and collect winter stoneflies. Finding the sensitive stonefly is an indication of clean water and a healthy stream. 

Our current winter stonefly search sites are:

  • Belle River - Columbus County Park, Columbus Township

  • Belle River - Columbus Township Roadside Park, Gratiot Ave in Columbus Township

Wetland Wanderings

Wetlands are full of life. Wander them with us.
Wednesdays in the summer at Blue Water River Walk County Park.

During this summer outdoor exploration program, get your hands in the water and boots in the mud to dig for macroinvertebrates --- the important little aquatic bugs like insects, mollusks & crustaceans - that are part of the wetland food chain. This urban shoreline park is full of life, and we’re digging in to learn about what's living in the water. The wetlands are assigned a water quality score that ranges from "Excellent" to "Poor" depending on the type and number of macroinvertebrates we find and identify. Because these man-made wetlands are within an urban park, he scores are important for tracking water quality over time.

Wetland Wanderings are once a month throughout the summer from 6 – 7pm. It is held at the south end of Blue Water River Walk at 2200 Military Street in Port Huron. Parking is available at the bottom of the hill near the Bean Dock. Our program takes place under the park pavilion. This event is held in partnership with the City of Port Huron Recreation Department and St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Lab Identification Day

Identification Day is an important step that completes the process of our annual water quality monitoring work. We gather volunteers in a laboratory at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron to analyze, observe and identify aquatic insects, snails and clams that were collected from the field during prior monitoring events. With the aid of microscopes and our trained staff, volunteers sort these bugs into taxonomic groups. Once all the organisms have been properly identified and categorized, the stream is then assigned a score ranging from “good”, “fair”, or “poor” based on the life it supports.

Stream Team FAQ

I've never done this before. Can I still participate?
Yes! We’ll teach you all you need to know to be a part of Stream Team. Most volunteers begin with nothing more than curiosity and a desire to get involved.

Do I need to supply my own gear?
Although you’re welcome to bring your own waders, rain boots, or nets, it’s not necessary. Stream Team Captains will bring all tools and equipment to your site. Waders are available to borrow with advance notice.

Where will I go on Stream Team monitoring day?
Volunteers are assigned to a team and a stream site after registering for an event. These sites have been screened for monitoring activities based on accessibility, safety, and parking capacities. Some sites may require a short walk through wooded or shrubby areas. You will be notified of site conditions and what to expect prior to the day of monitoring. You may request a site that is near to where you live.

How do I register or receive notifications for Stream Team events?
It’s easy! Reach out to Melissa Kivel, Education Manager, at to become a Stream Team volunteer. Events are promoted on our website and social media platforms.

How do I learn more about macroinvertebrates?
Identifying macroinvertebrates is a skill that comes with time and experience. is a great resource to learn more about the critters we find during Stream Team events. We also recommend the Pocket Macros app for your smartphone.

Thank You...

Thank you to our Stream Team partners for their funding and support: ZF Axle Marysville, St. Clair County Health Department, and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) hosts a network of volunteer water quality monitoring programs across Michigan. Friends of the St. Clair River, in collaboration with the St. Clair County Health Department, received a MiCorps grant in 2008 to launch Stream Team and a second grant in 2021 to revitalize our program. Visit their website for more information on their stream monitoring programs.

MiCorp Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program Fact Sheet