Celebrate Earth Day by becoming a citizen scientist with the SA River Authority

Volunteers needed with the San Antonio River Authority

SAN ANTONIO – Happy Earth Day! The San Antonio River Authority celebrates all the elements that make the planet so great, specifically the San Antonio River, both today and everyday.

“This river… flows 240-miles all the way to the Gulf Coast, and there is this amazing flora and fauna that are dependent on this (water),” Minna Paul, education and engagement coordinator for the San Antonio River Authority said.

The agency encourages the community to help protect San Antonio’s freshwater resource through their volunteer program, River Warrior. Warriors can become citizen scientists to help respond to post-storm litter pickup, participate in ecosystem restoration activities and help collect water samples for The Meadows Center’s Texas Stream Team.

“They can also get trained to help with water quality, which is removing of invasive species like apple snails, doing water quality monitoring all over the watershed and a number of other things like erosion control,” Paul said.

The River Warrior program is free and open to those ages 15 and older who have a passion for the outdoors. Citizens scientists like Nichole Dopp said they take pride in helping provide data that helps protect the San Antonio River.

“It’s important to be part of your ecosystem,” Dopp said. “While you may just think it’s environmental and it’s not (one’s) problem, your clean eco system is a reflection of you. It affects your health as well as the wildlife’s health.”

Dopp and her mother Emily take water samples frequently near the headquarters of SARA, an area that prior to their participation in the program hadn’t been observed in more than 10 years.

“What got me interested (in the River Warrior program) is (that) I wanted to help better my community and my environment, and this was the perfect opportunity. I saw it online and I decided this is what I need to do. This is my purpose here.”

SARA provides volunteers with a testing kit to monitor the levels of oxygen and PH balance.

The San Antonio River Authority also launched a family friendly initiative to encourage the community to observe wildlife, flora and fauna in their areas.

“It’s the San Antonio City Native Challenge, (that) citizens can actually compete (in),” Paul said. “It’s a friendly competition with other cities all over the globe in observing wildlife, flora and fauna in their areas. They compete with each other (on) who makes the most observations.”

Paul hopes volunteer and community engagement opportunities inspire those who love nature to help protect the San Antonio River.

To apply to become a member of the River Warrior Program, click here.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.