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2004 IOWATER Volunteer Awards


Brian Soenen, Dave Ratliff, Lynette Seigley     

IOWATER Volunteer of the Year

Dave Ratliff

The IOWATER Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Dave Ratliff in part because of his unparalleled dedication, unfathomable spirit, and commitment to create a better environment. The passion Dave has for his environment is unmatched by many. His participation in IOWATER includes the development of the Johnson and Iowa County Watershed Coalition, which has conducted over 2,200 streamside measurements and collected over 500 samples for lab analyses. For Dave, monitoring has always been about the people, getting them in the water, touching the water, and actively involved in monitoring. Thanks to Dave, more is known today about the quality of water in streams throughout Iowa and Johnson counties. His monitoring efforts also identified some water quality concerns, and Dave has gone to great lengths to identify sources and to engage officials in addressing the problem.

Dave has also organized teaching demonstrations for water flow and macroinvertebrate monitoring for local school and Boy Scouts groups. He loves to work with, and teach, young students about water quality and what they can do to help improve it. He has focused his projects around youngsters, with the goal of teaching them about aquatic resources and their responsibilities towards maintaining them. Mr. Ratliff not only gives freely of himself for his own projects, but also volunteers to help others with their



Jim Colbert

IOWATER Professional of the Year

Jim Colbert

The IOWATER Professional of the Year Award was presented to Jim Colbert, a university biology professor, lichen researcher, outdoorsman, and founder and highest-ranking Admiral in the Skunk River Navy. Dr. James Colbert has been making a difference in Iowa. Dr. Colbert has taught introductory biology and botany courses at the college level for 15 years. His teaching philosophy is that students must be engaged, involved, and thinking to learn – in other words, "brains-on" learning. His approach to teaching has two principle motivations: an enduring love for the subject of biology and a deep sense of caring that students come to appreciate the wonders of biology. Given the extensive environmental challenges that our world currently faces, Dr. Colbert believes it is essential that people have a clear understanding of the value, importance, diversity, and beauty of the biological world.

Over the course of the past few years, Dr. Colbert has been involved in a number of activities. He initiated a lichen inventory in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, founded the Biology Education Success Teams or BEST program for incoming ISU Biology freshmen, coordinates the Biology Education Teaching and Learning, or BETAL community of college students seeking careers in environmental education, and is chairperson of the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition. Basically, he is involved in an incredible number of activities. When asked what he’d like inscribed on his award, Dr. Colbert replied “I was only called "James" when I was in trouble and "Doctor" always seems like overkill for a person who likes to play in the mud.”



Brian Soenen, Annette Purdy, Chris Ham, Nathan Emanuel

IOWATER Classroom of the Year

Annette Purdy

The IOWATER Classroom of the Year award was presented to Annette Purdy and her Winterset High School Science Classes. During the spring, the City of Winterset sometimes experiences problems with their drinking water, which is supplied by Cedar Lake. The specific problem can be attributed to elevated nitrate levels in the lake, levels that are above the U.S. EPA drinking water standards and out of compliance with the Clean Water Act. To help address the problem, the Madison County NRCS has established small wetlands in the watershed that act as natural filters for nitrates and other pollutants.

In 2001, Annette Purdy and her students began monitoring streams in the Cedar Lake watershed, and in 2003, they started documenting the effect of NRCS wetlands on nitrate removal. Wetlands have been proven to be effective buffers for water quality, but all the data comes from large-scale wetlands on large-scale projects. The Winterset High School science classes study the small wetlands in the Cedar Lake Watershed, and the data they collect are used by natural resource professionals to assist the efforts of the Cedar Lake water quality project. By providing valuable data that document water quality improvements in Cedar Lake, Annette and her class uphold the IOWATER mission by protecting and improving Iowa’s water quality.



Brian Soenen, Doris Hotchkin, Gene Rohr, Jean Perri

IOWATER Watershed Group of the Year

 Arbor Lake Monitoring Team

The IOWATER Watershed Group of the Year award was presented to the Arbor Lake Monitoring Team. The Arbor Lake Monitoring Team began to surface in 2003 and have been submerged in Arbor Lake and its tributaries ever since. Despite cold, heat, rain, snow, and snowmelt, the team monitors the lake on a regular basis. A kayak is used to monitor the deepest water in the lake when the water is open, and when the lake is frozen, an ice auger opens a hole through which sampling can be performed. The team has explored the Arbor Lake watershed to discover sources of water pollution, and they have searched out every trickle of water coming into and going out of the lake in a quest to discover its secrets and share their findings.

During the summer the team 'super sampled' macroinvertebrates in two tributaries and the outlet stream. By working together, they very efficiently identified the interesting critters that live there. They have shared their enthusiasm with others by inviting Brownie Scouts to sample with them, helping Grinnell College students with water quality projects, inviting the community to experience the work of monitoring, and reporting their results to the public. The Team feels that water monitoring is important for the community and for the state of Iowa. It is something positive they can do to improve Iowa's waters so that their grandchildren can enjoy activities in and on Arbor Lake.



Brian Soenen, Anne Brockway, Laura Lopez, Mark Brockway, Curtis Lundy, Roy DeWitt

IOWATER Event of the Year

Xstream Cleanup

The IOWATER Event of the Year award was presented to Curtis Lundy and the Xstream Cleanup Crew. The Xstream Cleanup committee formed in September of 2003 due to the great success of that summer’s Duck Creek Cleanup. Chad Pregracke, of Living Lands & Waters, suggested that the group expand its cleanup efforts outside of Davenport and Bettendorf and into the entire Quad City Area. The suggestion was well received and the planning began. The group recruited representatives from the cities of Bettendorf, Davenport, East Moline, LeClaire, Moline, and Rock Island, as well as representatives from several organizations and businesses throughout the Quad Cities.

Beginning in early August 2004, Living Lands & Waters began a cleanup of the Mississippi River, which eventually led up to the Quad Cities. As Chad’s crew and 300 volunteers cleaned up the Mississippi River, over 1,300 volunteers cleaned up 27 other sites, including creeks, drainage ways, and the Rock River, during the week of August 21-28. Xstream Cleanup volunteers recovered over 40 tons, or 80,000 pounds, of debris - 1,300 bags of trash, 270 tires, 50 pieces of furniture, 45 bicycles, 40 railroad ties, 30 appliances, and 18 drums, to name just a few items. Some of the unique finds included the trunks of two cars, a car bumper, shopping carts, vacuum cleaners, an iron bathtub, a potbelly stove, a beaver cage trap, street signs, building materials, and a 90-pound catfish carcass. Pregracke said the volunteers for his River cleanup, combined with all of the other Xstream Cleanup volunteers, made this the largest cleanup event that Living Lands & Waters had completed. Xstream Cleanup 2004 was a huge success and planning has already begun for Xstream Cleanup 2005. The Xstream Cleanup Volunteers have created a cycle: sample, clean and educate, sample...