Blue Thumb program lets volunteers help with Oklahoma's water quality efforts

A training session is planned Jan. 25-26 at Oklahoma City University for people interested in monitoring streams and rivers through the Oklahoma Conservation Commission's Blue Thumb program.
BY MATT PATTERSON mpatterson@opubco.com Modified: January 7, 2013 at 7:42 pm •  Published: January 8, 2013
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“People seem to like getting outdoors,” Cheadle said. “With Blue Thumb, volunteers work in teams, so if one member is good at testing, the other might write the report and record results. We let people dictate their own level of involvement.”

Rewarding work

Mayberry takes his students to Delaware Creek on Saturdays. He doesn't offer extra credit because he wants students who are truly interested in the subject to be involved. Still, he hasn't had much trouble getting students to meet at school on Saturday mornings for a 100-mile bus trip to the creek. Mayberry was able to secure a school bus for the once-a-month trip.

“It's very rewarding to see students light up when they can see a practical end to what they learn in the classroom,” he said. “We have at least half a dozen who never miss no matter what time of year it is. I think they enjoy it. It gets them out of the classroom and learning in a real world environment.”

As a volunteer, Mayberry said the experience has been rewarding personally. He views it as part of a wider goal of educating the public about the environment and something just about anyone can do.

“I would certainly encourage anyone who is interested to check it out,” Mayberry said of Blue Thumb. “You don't have to be in great shape to participate, and you don't need a background in science. The training will cover everything. It's just a good way for individuals to get involved.”

Get involved

For more information on Blue Thumb and the upcoming training sessions at Oklahoma City University, call 522-4738 or email kim.shaw@conservation.ok.gov.