Sagehen Volunteers

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 and 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 fun project with which we can definitely use help right now: finding animals in camera trap photos!


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, then get involved and start posting your own observations!

California Naturalist 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.

Sagehen collections

Museum curator Erica Krimmel repaired our bear mount and coordinated other volunteers, the Berkeley MVZ, and Cal Poly’s Hoover Herbarium to digitize the Sagehen botany, mammal, bird and insect collections.

Though not complete, the Sagehen herbarium is a large and useful plant collection that is now available and searchable online, thanks largely to Erica. The digital collection includes specimen records and color images, including hi-res scans for some vouchers. With Faerthen Felix, she is actively expanding the collection to match our basin plant list, and worked with other volunteers to mount specimens and digitize records, as well.More information about Sagehen’s Collections Program.

Truckee River Watershed Council projects

TRWC offers volunteer opportunities at Sagehen (and 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 and sensor installation, repairs to fishhouse and diversion channels.
  • “Snapshot Day”: a series of concurrent water samples and 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 and 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 and identify these insects for water quality assessments.

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 grammar and 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 ARC for more information.

Sagehen’s On-line Wildflower Identification tools

Al Grigarick bought a digital camera and decided to photograph wildflowers to teach himself to use it. He worked with local botanists to ID the plants and 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 and cross referencing common and scientific names. There’s a spreadsheet and information sheet about the collection, allowing you to look up flowers by name.

In 2007, Al added a new section on conifers (evergreen trees).

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

Take a look at this useful collection on our Collections page.

Sagehen Summer Speaker Series

Sagehen presents occasional 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 Snailsplease 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 and 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.

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 and fished to collect non-native trout for comparative studies.

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

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 and creek environment, and chemically-sensitive station visitors.

More info.

Maintenance & repairs

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

  • Tommy Shimamura dismantled and rebuilt a deck for us;
  • Dave Westmoreland painted cabins and replaced windows;
  • Classes and 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 and our tractor.
  • Contact the Station Manager to ask about projects that may need doing.

Highlights of Northstar’s Epic Promise Day at Sagehen

Graphic Art

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