The Trinity Stream Team

Guest Contributor
May 14, 2018

Guest Blog by:  Kathy Jelsema and Gerry Koning, Trinity Christian Reformed Church (Grandville/Jension area, MI)

From the simple beginnings of seeing a need for keeping our little spot on Rush Creek cleaner, to venturing into independent annual stream invertebrate surveys and sending in those findings to the Michigan DEQ, to now having the funds and resources (thanks to grants and training from MiCorps) to survey multiple sites on Rush Creek twice a year and share those results with a broader group of interested parties, the Trinity Church Stream Team is thankful for the opportunity to be involved in caring for the Rush Creek Watershed.

And we are thankful for one thing that sets us apart from many of the other groups doing volunteer monitoring, and that is our commitment to participate not only on a practical justice issue of contributing to a healthier environment, but also to do so with a biblical mandate, knowing that care for all of creation is something God calls us to. It is not always easy for a church to jump into this kind of grant program, as there are obstacles to overcome on various sides, so we feel very blessed.

A love for life-giving rivers is true for all ages.

And we are really enjoying the opportunity!  We love seeing people who join us come to better understand the beauty of all creation, even the tiny bugs, and to better appreciate the opportunity to somehow make a difference in this world, even by a simple act of collecting and counting these bugs. This is our goal, both for people in our local churches and also in our surrounding community. We invite people of all ages to join us, regardless of their ability or knowledge, just so that we are able the share with as many people as possible this beautiful adventure into the world God has created. Trained adults are always assigned to the key required positions on the team, but any volunteer is welcome to tag along and experience the process. We have found that the excitement of discovery is ageless.

At our last event, on May 5, we had folks with us from age 4 to 70, and all ages in between, all working together and having a blast doing it. It helped that we had great weather, but the fellowship and the learning together was so sweet. We also had recently purchased a couple of microscopes, one of which projects onto a TV monitor, and that made the identification process very cool, as we were able to see the macroinvertebrates projected in larger than life size on a big screen.

Volunteers with the Trinity Stream Team pull out the insects and crustaceans from the sediment, leaves, and rocks that trained collectors put into white trays.

All the areas of the creek that we surveyed on the 5th remained in the fair to good category — some spots improved somewhat, while others had a lower score than last fall. But even now we are already looking forward to what we may discover in the fall and we are feeling good about the fact that each time we do a survey, we feel a little more confident in our ability to collect a good sampling of bugs and to correctly identify them. If you are in the area of the Rush Creek watershed next fall and want to join us for our next survey, we welcome you!

The following is a note of appreciation that we received from a 70 year old woman who joined us for the first time. This is why we feel blessed to do this:

“Sincere thanks for the warm and friendly welcome extended to me at the stream evaluation. What a great introduction to local environment care. Is there a website where I can read about other efforts similar to your Stream Team? It would be of interest to compare what progress toward improvement has been made in our locale and state wide.  Thank you for continuing to be the “watchman on the wall” for God’s creation.”

About the Grantee:

The Jamestown Charter Township/Trinity Christian Reformed Church partnership is currently supported, in part, by a 2017 Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Survey grant under the MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP). They also received a 2016 VSMP Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Start-up grant to develop their macroinvertebrate monitoring program.