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Every month we'll feature a new volunteer to profile.  These volunteers inspire and encourage the volunteer community to keep up their efforts to protect and improve Iowa's rivers, streams, and lakes. 

March/April 2013 Volunteer Profile
Jim Urban, Iowa City -- "Grandpa Jim is teaching his grandkids to love and respect the water"

Jim and Bailey testing the waters of the Turkey River, AWARE 2011

Jim got hooked on water after attending a Wayne Petersen (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Urban Conservationist) presentation as part of the Mater Conservationist Program.  Jim then became IOWATER trained in 2006, and unlike the majority of IOWATER volunteers who become involved because of a local water concern, Jim is involved in IOWATER because he is fascinated by water.  He’s amazed at the water quality results he sees through testing, as well as the experience he’s gained by walking and traveling the streams and rivers.  Since becoming IOWATER certified, Jim monitors four sites on a monthly basis.  Jim is a regular participant of the Johnson/Iowa County snapshot, having helped monitor sites for 10 of these events.  For about a year, he sampled a Johnson County landowner’s private pond until the landowner said "the fish are being caught again." 

Jim and Bailey testing the Nishnabotna River in 2010.

In addition to water testing, Jim is an active participant on Project AWARE, having participated in the event the past three years.  In addition to removing trash, Jim, along with his granddaughter Bailey, conduct the water testing throughout the week of Project AWARE.  Jim's experience on Project AWARE has inspired him to participate in other local river cleanups across the state.

Through Jim’s water monitoring and river cleanup activities, he feels that he is improving the water for everyone either by directly removing trash from the waterways or by testing the water quality.  He is educated each time he is around water.  Since June 2008, he has included his granddaughter Bailey in his water adventures, exposing the next generation to the water resources that we have.   During his time with his granddaughter, he not only serves as an educator and mentor, but most importantly, he develops a special bond as he and Bailey learn together what it means to be stewards of the environment.

Jim also recently achieved another signficant accomplishment -- the naming of Cardinal Creek in Johnson County.  On May 12, 2012, Jim received a notification from the United States Board on Geographic Names that his nomination to rename a previously unnamed tributary of Clear Creek to "Cardinal Creek" had been successful.  Jim has monitored this creek since July of 2008 -- documenting the health of one of Iowa's many small streams and providing valuable information for now and into the future.

The newly named Cardinal Creek in Johnson County, Iowa