In 2023, Santa Cruz High School student Talia Gurdak got her hands wet in the name of local watershed health by volunteering for Snapshot Day in Santa Cruz County. Talia and her team the “Swampy Samplers” braved pouring rain to collect samples for water quality analysis in the San Lorenzo River watershed.

Now a high school junior, Talia has taken her commitment to environmental action one step further by making a video presentation about her Snapshot Day experience and sharing it on a new website called Students for Sustainable Water. Talia and her sister Kaia developed the website as part of an international Environmental Fellowship program to “empower students and create a global network of students sharing stories about their local water resources and hazards and adaptation to climate change.” 

In her presentation, Talia provides an overview of Snapshot Day and how the event helps monitor the health of 10 watersheds flowing into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She then describes the process of collecting field measurements for pH, transparency, dissolved oxygen, and temperature, and the importance of each measurement for river health.  

“I would highly recommend reaching out to the Coastal Watershed Council to volunteer if you live in the Santa Cruz area,” Talia said to close her presentation. “I had a lot of fun and I felt like a real hydrologist for the day. And I learned just how important water quality is to the local watersheds, but also to the marine ecosystem. I can’t wait for Snapshot Day next year!” 

Thank you for your environmental commitment, Talia, and for encouraging other students like you to take action for our local rivers and streams!  

Watch Talia’s Snapshot Day presentation, and find out more about Snapshot Day.  

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