WAVS – Emily Heald — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

WAVS – Emily Heald


The Water Action Volunteers (WAV) citizen stream monitoring program is an ongoing partnership between the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and Wisconsin citizen volunteers.

A river educator by title, but true scientist by nature, Emily Heald leads the volunteer recruitment program for the joint project of the DNR of Wisconsin- the University of Wisconsin-Madison … and is our guest on the Wilderness North Podcast this month.

Getting to know her:

In her college student days she was already being recognized for her talents.


Emily Heald, the water program coordinator at the North Lakeland Discovery Center, was recognized as a 2019 “Invader Crusader” for her significant contributions to prevent, control or eradicate invasive plants and animals by the Wisconsin Invasive Species Council and the Department of Natural Resources during a ceremony in Madison at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

The award recognizes outstanding work done to address invasive species by volunteers and natural resource professionals. Heald was nominated by Karen Dixon, NLDC board chair and immediate past president of the Manitowish Waters Lakes Association, and the Town of Manitowish Waters.

During the award ceremony, DNR Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Kluesner thanked the individual and organizational recipients for their hard work and dedication, which benefit all who live, work and play in Wisconsin.

“Today, we celebrate the results of your work — lakes and lands that are given a chance to recover after many hours of hard work and dedication to control and manage invasive species,” she said.

Annually, more than 500 volunteers and an estimated 2,000 supervised students monitor 600+ stream locations throughout the state.

The program aims to preserve, protect and restore Wisconsin’s 86,000+ miles of streams and rivers by educating and empowering volunteers to (1) gather high-quality stream data useful for decision-making and natural resource management, and (2) share their data and knowledge.

 Our Mission

We empower citizen volunteers to take ownership of their local waterways through protection and improvement efforts based on hands-on learning, data collection and data reporting. Engaged citizens and the data they collect benefit natural resource agencies and organizations, local communities and the entire state of Wisconsin.

Our Vision

WAV aims to provide high quality volunteer stream monitoring that engages citizens in the rigorous collection of water quality data useful for managing Wisconsin’s natural resources.

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