Organizational Structures and Data Use in Volunteer Monitoring Organizations (VMOs)

Shelby Laird, Stacy A.C. Nelson, Harriett S. Stubbs, April L. James, Erika Menius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Complex environmental problems call for unique solutions to monitoring efforts alongside developing a more environmentally literate citizenry. Community-based monitoring (CBM) through the use of volunteer monitoring organizations helps to provide a part of the solution, particularly when CBM groups work with research scientists or government managers. This study of volunteer monitoring organizations (VMOs) active in 2009 in the United States was conducted via survey in order to better understand the organizational structure, data collection procedures and data use of water-quality monitoring by volunteers, focusing on North Carolina. Organizational structures and origins of monitoring groups are discussed and reveal a wide variety of types and history of programs. Data collection procedures including required training and quality assurance were explored and discussed through the survey. Many groups require training of a varied type, but fewer complete quality assurance plans. Multiple types of volunteer monitoring data uses were indicated, including management and research. This study suggests a lack of structure at the state level may hinder the usefulness of data collected for purposes other than local information and environmental education. Cooperation between research scientists and VMOs may aid organizations in publishing more of their data and developing a quality assurance plan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Environmental Education and Communication
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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