Volunteering at Sagehen ...

Examples of past & ongoing projects.

Sagehen welcomes volunteer efforts, but we don't often have staff to create structured programs, so it's up to you: what did you have in mind?

The following are some past & ongoing examples of volunteer-created contributions. To get involved in an existing volunteer effort, use the contact information in the project description. Please contact the Station Manager if you would like to propose a new volunteer project.

Here is a list of projects on which we can definitely use help right now.

iNaturalist and California Naturalist:

Sagehen California Naturalists and other interested volunteers post their observations of plants and animals in the Sagehen Basin to our iNaturalist project, giving us incredibly valuable documentation of our biota lists and the distribution of these species over time.

Get more info about iNaturalist here, then get involved and start posting your own observations!

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California Naturalist is a new program that aims to develop a core of committed, trained volunteers to take an active role in citizen science, education and conservation projects.

Sagehen's first California Naturalist training took place over 10-weeks in summer 2012. We plan to offer this program again in 2013 in this format, and possibly also in an intensive one-week format.

Truckee River Watershed Council projects:

TRWC offers volunteer opportunities at Sagehen (& elsewhere) throughout the year. These opportunities typically involve a fun outing to a stream, including:

  • "Truckee River Day": Sagehen generally provides one or more volunteer projects. These projects help restore the Sagehen watershed, or improve our capacity to study watershed processes. Past projects include invasive water-weed removal, meteorological tower & sensor installation, repairs to fishhouse & diversion channels.
  • "Snapshot Day": a series of concurrent water samples & stream health characterizations to capture a "snapshot " of the larger system condition at a point in time. This information is very useful in locating problems & determining how things are changing.
  • "Truckee River Aquatic Monitoring" (TRAM): aquatic macroinvertebrates are a fantastic indicator of water quality. The TRAM volunteers visit various creeks in the Truckee watershed, including Sagehen, to collect & identify these insects for water quality assessments.

Contact the Truckee River Watershed Council for more information or to sign up!

tower tower sampling nymph elodea removal

Adventure - Risk - Challenge Summer Leadership & Literacy Program:


ARC is Sagehen's outreach program for English Language Learners. The program combines committing outdoor activities with intensive grammer & writing exercises. There are a number of volunteer opportunities with ARC at varying levels of commitment, ranging from acting as an interview subject for a couple of hours, to providing day-to-day assistance with program logistics.

Read profiles of dedicated ARC volunteers, Suzie Cordero and Susie Lippuner.

Contact Program Director Jen Gurecki for more information.

Sagehen's On-line Wildflower Identification tools:

Al Grigarick bought a digital camera & decided to photograph wildflowers to teach himself to use it. He worked with local botanists to ID the plants & Sagehen staff to create a system to present them on the web.

The collection includes 200 of the species on our basin plant list.

The photos are great for learning botany & cross referencing common & scientific names. There's a spreadsheet & information sheet about the collection, allowing you to look up flowers by name.

Al updates his collection every year with new plants, improved images, taxonomy changes & corrections. In 2007, he added a new section on conifers (evergreen trees).

Lots of people use the tools, including students, teachers & agencies.

Take a look at this useful collection on our "Photos" page, or on our "Plant list" page.


Sagehen Summer Speaker Series:

Every summer, Sagehen presents a roster of volunteer speakers on scientific topics of interest to the local community. See our events page for more information.

Contact the Station Manager if you would like to offer a presentation or suggest a topic.


Invasive Species Removal/Prevention:

Sagehen has a few invasive species concerns that volunteers can help with. To prevent future problems, please do not bring non-native genotypes into the creek or basin.

  • New Zealand Mud Snails: please help us prevent this scourge by treating fishing waders with "Formula 409" or by freezing them at least overnight before wading in Sagehen Creek.
  • Yellow Salsify [Tragopogon dubius]: this weedy plant can take over meadow systems. It looks like an enormous dandelion when it goes to seed. Please pull them straight out to remove the root. Put the plants into a garbage can or burn them to prevent seed dispersal. You can also do the same for any dandelions you see.
  • Waterweed [Elodea Canadensis]: this aquarium weed grows underwater in lower Sagehen Creek. Please remove it & toss on shore. If possible, avoid pulling the similar White water crowfoot [Ranunculus aquatilis] which has white blossoms. Do not wade from downstream, to above the diversion weir.
mud snail © Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College elodea  

Research Project Assistants:

From time to time, Sagehen researchers need volunteer help with their projects. In the past, research volunteers helped band birds for the MAPS project, hunted for slave-making ant raids & fished to collect non-native trout for comparative studies.

Contact the Station Manager to ask about current researchers possibly needing assistance.

banding ants fish    

Sagehen low-impact cleaning supplies:

Volunteer Susie Lippuner lobbied the Biokleen company and others to provide low-impact cleaning supplies to replace the conventional ones used by Sagehen visitors in the past. This excellent program benefits our septic systems, the basin & creek environment, & chemically-sensitive station visitors.

More info.

Maintenance & repairs:

Folks occasionally help us with ongoing maintenance & repairs to the facilities. For instance:

  • Tommy Shimamura dismantled & rebuilt a deck for us;
  • Dave Westmoreland painted cabins & replaced windows;
  • Classes & resident researchers help us pile slash for later burning, reducing fire hazard around the station facilities;
  • Mike Wolf, Jim Herzman, Dan Sayler and Bryce help us out immensely by working on Sagehen's Imp snowcats & our tractor.

Contact the Station Manager to ask about projects that may need doing.

tommy dave slash mike  

Sagehen collections:

Museum curator Erica Krimmel repaired our bear mount and digitized the Sagehen botany collection.

Though not complete, the Sagehen herbarium is a large and useful plant collection that is now available and searchable online, thanks to Erica. The digital collection includes specimen records and color scans. She is actively expanding the collection to match our basin plant list, and worked with the UC Natural History Museum and volunteers to address our animal collections, as well.

"You can trick the website by selecting SCFS as "Source" and entering some very recent date (e.g. 1 Jan 2012) and "before" on the "Collection Date/s" section below. That should give you a full list of the specimens we submitted--I think there are slightly under 1,000."

erica and bear

Graphic Art:

Scientific Illustrator Stephanie Rozzo produced graphic art demonstrating concepts behind the Sagehen Forest Project.