Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Your Boots Wet!
Experience real, hands-on science.
Go to our calendar and register for upcoming events!
Community service hours available!
Earn your hours with us by participating in an action project!
Forage fish surveys (year-round)
Forage fish are small marine fish that make up a large part of Pacific salmon’s diet. Join us to survey various beaches for sand lance and surf smelt eggs. Sand and gravel samples are collected and processed from local beaches. Samples are then taken to the lab to look for microscopic eggs. Surveys are tide dependent and survey times may vary. No experience necessary.
Pacific Northwest amphibian egg-mass identification workshop and surveys (January–March)
If you are curious about our Northwest amphibians, then this is for you! Every January, Stream Team partners with Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for a fun, informative workshop that will explore the ecology, habitat requirements and life history stages of our local amphibians.
If you like winter adventures and exploring ponds, join us on the hunt for frog and salamander eggs. We count individual egg masses and send data to WDFW to help them understand the changes in amphibian populations in our local wetlands and ponds.
No experience necessary. We prefer you attend a workshop, and additional training is provided in the field. Wading boots and safety gear provided. Best suited for ages 9 and up.
Purple martin monitoring (April–September)
Mid- to late April marks the return of the largest swallows in North America, the purple martin. Strictly a Western Washington species, the martin is the least-common swallow and the only species of martins on this continent. Migrating to the Pacific Northwest and up into Canada from as far away as the Amazon River and southern Brazil, the martins return to their summer homesites delighting us with their aerial acrobatic flights.
From April to September volunteers monitor the martin nest boxes weekly at East Bay in downtown Olympia. Attend a short training on monitoring basics and bird identification. No experience necessary.
Things you can do to help purple martins
- Retain dead and dying trees (snags) on the landscape, especially in forest openings and edges, near saltwater and around ponds and wetlands.
- Avoid using pesticides in areas inhabited by martins (and other birds). Instead, consider natural yard care methods that reduce the need for pesticides.
What’s blooming: Plankton surveys (June–September)
Every summer, Stream Team partners with Pacific Shellfish Institute (PSI) to see what plankton is present and blooming in and around Puget Sound. PSI will perform plankton sampling activities at the Port Plaza dock on Thursday afternoons.
You can help collect plankton samples and measure temperature, salinity and other water quality parameters. Samples are then viewed under a field microscope to identify what is found.
Other monitoring sites can be visited on select days at Tumwater Falls Park, Tumwater and Long Lake in Lacey. See our calendar for events and locations.
Why sample? During the warm summer months, harmful algae blooms may be detected in Puget Sound. Data results are reported to both the Departments of Health and Ecology to help identify and track harmful algae blooms such as those that produce paralytic shellfish disease toxins.
Stream bug – macroinvertebrate monitoring (July–August)
Aquatic insects are an essential part of the food web and major source of food for juvenile salmon. Benthic macroinvertebrates or “stream bugs” are small aquatic insects that live in the gravel layer at the bottom of a stream. Join us in sampling local streams to determine stream health and macroinvertebrate diversity.
Macroinvertebrates are indicators of stream health. Some species are tolerant of stream pollution and habitat disturbance, while others are very intolerant of disturbances and changes in water quality.
Attend our annual training to learn why “stream bugs” are used as indicators of stream health. The training will cover the monitoring protocol used to gather the samples. As a bonus, our special guest speaker will demonstrate how artificial flies used in fishing imitate native stream bugs.
No experience necessary. We prefer that you attend training, and on-site field training is provided. Wading boots also are provided.
Marine Creature Monday (July–August)
Stream Team pairs with local divers for hands-on viewing of some of the wonders of Puget Sound’s marine life.
Divers will demonstrate their equipment prior to diving to the bottom of the Sound to collect various marine creatures for up-close viewing. Our guest drone videographer will share his underwater real-time video so you can see first-hand the fascinating world below the docks. Biologists will talk about the different species found, their habitat needs and what is required to keep Puget Sound healthy.
All the marine creatures are kept in sea water for the viewing and then released back into Puget Sound.
This event is available to Thurston County residents only. This event is popular so please only sign up for one Marine Creature Monday per family per year.
Salmon Stewards (August–November)
Learn About Salmon & Teach Others: Be a Salmon Steward! Each year, adult salmon make their journey back to the stream in which they hatched or imprinted to spawn. Some species travel a short distance, while others swim thousands of miles to complete their life cycle. Imagine learning about this Northwest icon and being able to share the excitement of their return with others. You can—as a Salmon Steward!
All new Salmon Steward volunteers must attend the three basic trainings and at least one of the field trainings. Salmon Stewards learn about the five Pacific Northwest salmon and their life cycles, the four H’s and co-management of salmon in Washington state.
Salmon Stewards “staff” three popular salmon viewing locations:
- 5th Avenue Bridge (late August/September)
- Tumwater Falls Park (mid-September/early October)
- McLane Creek Nature Trail off Delphi Road SW (November/early December)
Each location has its own story related to the history of salmon and people in South Sound. The trainings will provide all the information you need to be successful as a beginner Salmon Steward. All new Stewards are expected to volunteer for at least three shifts (two hours each) after completing training.
Amphibian road monitoring (October–March)
Many of the pond-breeding amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders and newts) migrate seasonally between upland forested habitats and ponds where they breed. During these migrations they often need to cross roads where they risk being run over by vehicles. Where traffic levels are increasing over time, amphibians are at a greater risk of being impacted.
You can help! Volunteer surveyors collect migration data to help influence local management decisions. Early morning and night time surveys are available. High-visibility vests and gear provided. Ages 9 and up; minors age 14 and younger need to be accompanied by an adult. No experience necessary. See our calendar for event dates.