Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center at UMass Amherst

Jerry Schoen retires

Jerry Schoen retires

Jerry came to us in 1990 as an intern while still a graduate student at Antioch University New England. We made a cublicle for him in our brand new trailer attached to Blaisdell House, which was fully staffed and bursting at the seams at the time.

He chose the WRRC as his internship site because of our history of using volunteers in our research, namely our Acid Rain Monitoring project. Jerry was, is still!, a strong believer in citizen science, and he helped create a network of water volunteer quality monitors, first on rivers, then expanding to lakes as well, as lake enthusiasts clamored to join in. Jerry was instrumental in establishing a new program for WRRC, the Massachusetts Water Watch Partnership (MassWWP), and with funding from MassDEP and Mass EOEA (now MA EEA), he stayed on as a professional staff with our Center.

Jerry's involvement with citizen science went far beyond MassWWP, however. He was closely involved in the national volunteer monitoring network, helping shape protocols, conferences, and a widely popular newsletter, the Volunteer Monitor. He was convinced that volunteer-produced data was valuable and should be shared to be used by decision-makers; he authored a manual to help volunteers present their data (Ready, Set, Present! a data presentation manual for volunter water quality monitoring groups, 1999). He also wrote Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) manuals for volunteers and helped many groups create their own programs and QAPPs.

More recently, Jerry concentrated his citizen science interest on phenology (the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life), and developed a new project entitled the River Calendar, involving volunteers to make observations while out fishing or recreating near rivers, to help climate change documentation.

Over the years, Jerry worked on many water-related University projects, namely the Massachusetts Stormwater Technology Evaluation Project (MASTEP), and most recently RiverSmart with professors Eve Vogel and Christine Hatch of Geosciences. His favorite contribution to that project was the creation of virtual tours, another example of data presentation, where rivers and floods can be explained to the public through photographs and short narratives.

We wish Jerry great travels and lots of fly-fishing, and hope to see him again on campus when the opportunity arises to cooperate on future citizen science projects.