Josie on a monitoring visit with Girty’s Run Watershed Association and the Pitt Water Collaboratory

Hello, my name is Josie and I recently graduated from Duquesne University with a Master of Science in Environmental Science & Management with a concentration in Conservation Biology. This summer, I am working with water quality monitoring data at the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA). Specifically, I am developing an aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling protocol for NMRWA. I am also collecting macroinvertebrate community data at Girty’s Run and Montour Run to compare Nine Mile Run with other urban watersheds. When I am not collecting data, I am updating and analyzing water quality data from previous years to help assess the progress of restoration at Nine Mile Run.

I grew up in the Laurel Mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and started appreciating wildlife and the environment as a child. My backyard was a forested area with a small creek, and I remember playing there and collecting and identifying small organisms using encyclopedias and field guides local bookstores. At a young age, I realized that I had a passion for conservation and learning about wildlife. This opportunity at NMRWA allows me to explore my passion and apply the knowledge I have learned from my six years of education on environmental science.

In my stream field biology course, I helped collect and identify macroinvertebrates at Raccoon Creek with the Allegheny County Conservation District to see the impact of erosion on macroinvertebrate communities. Working on this project taught me how macroinvertebrate community structures can indicate the quality of a watershed, since there are specific organisms that are sensitive to pollution and environmental stress. While I was at Duquesne University, I collected water samples for 3 Rivers QUEST and I learned about water chemistry and sources of water pollution. These experiences allowed me to learn about monitoring watersheds by observing water chemistry and aquatic organisms in the field, and I am eager to learn more about watershed monitoring at NMRWA.

I thoroughly enjoy working at NMRWA because they are committed to restoring and protecting the environment and community. This organization has welcomed me onto their team and has allowed me to learn about the environmental efforts in Pittsburgh. I am learning that successful restoration requires consistent monitoring and commitment to improve water quality.