2023 GROAT Awards

Water Rangers’ community members are making big, big contributions to community based water monitoring. Their work and contributions are so valuable that there is no other way to describe them but to call them GROATs.

GROATs are the Greatest Rangers of All Time.

Here are Water Rangers’ 2023 GROATs- the members of our network who went above and beyond last year in community science, water literacy, education, and moving data to action!

Winner in the historian category: Doris Albert

With more than 200 observations at 26 locations, Doris Albert of the Big Rideau Lake Association has been testing regularly with the Water Rangers testkit since 2018 (and has been one of our greatest testers since that time!). Even before Doris started testing with us in 2018, however, she and other members of her community were collecting data on Big Rideau Lake: Doris recently shared with us “ice-on” and “ice-off” data her neighbor collected between 1986 and now on O’Mearas Bay!

One initial insight gleaned from the data is that the amount of time with ice-on has decreased by almost 14 days in the past 40 years. This shows the power of long-term community-based water monitoring. Thank you to Doris and Big Rideau for their long-term dedication to water protection! You can check out Doris’ data here.

Doris using her Water Rangers testkit.

Excellence in education: Isabella Liu

Isabella is a high school math and chemistry teacher who recently brought her compact ocean kit all the way to the Galapagos! While there, Isabella collected data in the field that she could share with her chemistry students and also wrote about the experience on her blog (check it out here!).

In 2023, Isabella also received a Certificate of Excellence from the Federal government for Teaching Excellence in STEM. Way to go, Isabella!

Isabella receiving the Certificate of Excellence in Teaching Excellence in STEM from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Most observations: Don and Heather Ross

Don and Heather Ross have been some of our most dedicated testers since 2017, when they began testing as part of our first ever testkit program. Together, they’ve uploaded more than 1100 observations at over 60 locations! 

Don and Heather are also part of County Sustainability Group (CSG), a local environmental group in Prince Edward County. CSG has “brings a global perspective to local activities in Prince Edward County,” and has been since 2006! 

Special shout out to Quinte Conservation Authority, who have helped fund Don and Heather’s restocking supplies a number of times over the past few years! Learn more here. 

Don and Heather out testing!

Most inspirational: Richard and Maggie

Richard and Maggie are two of our Lake Erie Guardians who started testing this past year. Richard and Maggie got involved with the program after Richard suffered a brain injury. As Richard told us, “Being apart of Water Rangers and Lake Erie Guardians has  helped me find a new purpose in life since my accident left me blindsided. Being able to contribute to something so wonderful and important,  to us and so many others has given me (and us) such an immense sense of happiness and well being.”

In just a few short months, Richard and Maggie have collected 24 observations at 4 locations and have uploaded dozens of pictures, too! They’ve also purchased a winter testkit to continue testing into the winter months. We are so grateful for their contributions, and we’re so inspired by their dedication!

One of the dozens of pictures uploaded by Richard and Maggie along with their observations

GROAT scientist: Dr. Kerri Finlay

Dr. Kerri Finlay is a professor of Biology at the University of Regina. Her research focuses on aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry, specifically investigating the role of Prairie lakes in the global carbon budget and the effects of anthropogenic activities on lake water quality. Over the past four years, we have worked with Kerri and the community on collecting water quality data in Saskatchewan as part of an NSERC research project.

This year, we extended our research to the ‘cow kit’ where we prototyped and tested new ways for farmers to ensure livestock health by testing their ponds for signs of algal blooms. Kerri is always helping us answer community questions, interpreting data, and using community-based water quality data to advance scientific inquiry.

Learn more about our work in Saskatchewan here!

Dr. Kerri Finlay holding a dissolved oxygen ampoule