Training

In order to maintain quality assurance in the data collected through this program, all volunteers are trained by VLMP personnel upon entering the program. This helps to maintain consistency in monitoring methods from volunteer to volunteer across the state.

Here's how it works:

Training will take place in May and sometimes June. Your training coordinator will contact you to schedule a training date. If you plan to have others assist you with monitoring, they should also attend the training session. Separate training sessions will not be offered.

To follow proper monitoring time protocol, more often than not, you will be asked to schedule training sometime between 10am and 4pm, usually on weekdays. Please keep this in mind when planning your schedule. Work with your trainer to figure out a time and date that works best.

If you are a first time volunteer in any tier, you will receive an individual training on your lake. After your first year of monitoring in Tier 1 or Tier 2 and you choose to remain in those tiers, training will be on an as-needed basis or when staff resources are available. You may also be asked to join a group training session instead of an individual training. Tier 3 monitors are trained every year that they choose to remain in Tier 3. Tier 3 volunteers are also subject to a follow-up visit sometime during the monitoring season to ensure that all procedures are being conducted properly. This is important because of the potential regulatory use of Tier 3 data.

Tier 1 Training

If you are new to Tier 1, we will issue you a Secchi disk and all the forms and additional training materials you will need to properly monitor your lake. Staff will accompany you on your lake using your boat to establish monitoring sites and demonstrate monitoring methods. Work with your trainer before the training session to ensure that you both have a map of your lake on hand to jot down monitoring sites and sight lines for identifying your sites in future monitoring trips.

Tier 2 Training

If you are new to Tier 2, we will issue you all the required equipment and forms you will need to properly monitor and sample your lake. Staff will accompany you on your lake using your boat to demonstrate proper monitoring and sampling methods. We will discuss what you learned in Tier 1 training as well as how to collect, prepare and ship your water quality samples. We will also show you how to fill out the necessary laboratory forms.

Tier 3 Training

If you are new to Tier 3, we will issue you all the required equipment and forms you will need to properly monitor and sample your lake. Staff will accompany you on your lake using your boat to demonstrate proper monitoring and sampling methods. We will discuss what you learned in during your training for Tiers 1 and 2 as well as how to collect, prepare and ship your water quality samples. We will also show you how to fill out the necessary laboratory forms.

Group Training Sessions

Due to limited staff resources, volunteers returning to monitor in the same tier as last year may be asked to participate in a group training session in place of an individual training session. This not only saves time, but is also a great opportunity for volunteers to meet and network with other volunteers in their area. Indicate on your registration form if you are interested in hosting a group training session.

How long do training sessions take?

Training is an essential component to the overall quality assurance of the data collected. We cannot overstate the value of volunteer training. In saying so, volunteers should expect a thorough training session so it is important to allot the appropriate amount of time in your schedule for training. All training times depend on the level of training required (Tier 3 requires much more training that Tier 1), the size of the lake, the size of the group attending training and how much discussion is generated from the training visit.

Training sessions may take less or more time than indicated below, so keep that in mind when scheduling your training session.

  • Tier 1 — 1 to 1½ hours
  • Tier 2 — 1 to 2 hours
  • Tier 3 — 3 to 4 hours