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updated: 5/16/2014 11:10 AM

Become a 4-H Citizen Scientist, help improve the local environment

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University of Illinois Extension

Each time they recite the 4-H pledge, 4-H members promise to use their "hands to larger service."

Now, Illinois 4-H members are taking that pledge to a new level as they use science to improve the communities in which they live.

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With financial support from Archer Daniels Midland, the 4-H Citizen Scientist program provides junior and senior high youth opportunities to extend learning beyond current 4-H project work into the world of hands-on research.

"As a citizen scientist, 4-H members observe and record information from an environmental area close to their home," said Donna Nuger, 4-H Youth Development Educator for University of Illinois Extension in DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties. "The members will collect data from samples taken at their site and contribute their data to the growing field of scientific research related to water quality."

The program is open to current 4-H members and volunteers, as we well as youth and adults who aren't current members but wish to learn how to improve their local environment.

All participants will receive specialized training at no cost and receive materials toward the project. The next Citizen Scientist trainings closest to area residents will be:

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 17 at College of Lake County in Grayslake.

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 31 at Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford.

4-H members and adult volunteers will be trained in this stream-monitoring program and, in turn, help monitor water quality of Illinois wadeable streams. Each 4-H Citizen Scientist team will be assigned a stream site in their community to monitor over the course of the summer.

Upon successful completion of the Illinois RiverWatch training, each 4-H Citizen Scientist team will receive a 4-H Citizen Scientist Tool Kit. The kit will contain supplies needed to conduct the monitoring over the summer. 4-H Citizen Scientists will be contributing new knowledge to the field of water quality monitoring here in Illinois.

For more information or to join this program in DuPage, Kane or Kendall Counties, contact Donna Nuger at dnuger@illinois.edu or (630) 584-6166, or visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, notify at registration. Transportation is not provided.

The State 4-H also reaches out to adult environmentalists and Master Naturalist volunteers.

"Adults interested in environmental issues might find 4-H Citizen Scientist to their liking," said University of Illinois 4-H Youth Development Specialist Bill Million, "especially if they like working with youth on relevant environmental issues."

Additionally, this program offers certified Master Naturalists an opportunity to work alongside and guide 4-H members as they study the world around them, Million said. Master Naturalists are encouraged to contact their local Extension Office to see how they can become involved.

About 4-H: Illinois 4-H strives to help youth learn skills for living. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois. Illinois 4-H aims to impact the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.

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