What is bioassessment?

Bioassessment monitoring is an important tool used by environmental professionals to assess the health of creeks and rivers across the state. Each spring, volunteers with the Estuary Program collect macroinvertebrate samples and conduct creek habitat assessments. This monitoring effort involves collection of macroinvertebrate samples and conducting a habitat assessment. The types of macros you find give information about water quality in that creek. The habitat assessment gives information regarding the quality of the habitat (substrate, canopy etc.). The State’s Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program protocol is used during this assessment which aligns with work done throughout the western United States.

We thank the Harold J. Miossi Charitable Trust for their generous support of this bioassessment survey effort over the years.

Volunteer for bioassessment in 2018

Date and Time

Saturday, April 14thth from 9:00am–12:00pm


Bioassessment monitoring is a tool used state-wide to assess the health of our rivers and streams. The effort involves collecting macroinvertebrate samples from our local creeks and taking measurements of the habitat. To join our spring monitoring effort, volunteers must attend a three-hour training session, to be held on Saturday, April 14th from 9 a.m. to noon. Upon completing the training, volunteers will assist the Estuary Program with the monitoring effort. Each trip takes approximately four hours, and the work is expected to take place in April to May, depending on rainfall. Surveys will take place on weekdays as well as weekends. You must be able to stay for the duration of the survey.

What you will learn

  • An overview of  the state’s bioassessment monitoring protocol
  • Collection technique for stream macroinvertebrate
  • Measurement of basic water quality in the field
  • How to identify riparian habitat features

Training requirements

  • Please provide dates and times of day when you are available for surveys (Example, Mondays between 8 and 1, Wednesdays after 12).  You must be available for the duration of the survey in order to participate. Unfortunately, due to the number of interested volunteers, we cannot have people attend the training unless they are able to participate in a survey.
  • For the training session and surveys, please wear appropriate field attire. We will be outside the entire time, so a hat and sunscreen is recommended.


  • If coming from San Luis Obispo: Head north on Highway 1. Turn Right onto Education Drive (at the second stoplight across from Cuesta College. Continue up the road for approximately 1.5 miles. Click this link for directions.
  • If coming from Morro Bay: Head south on Highway 1. Turn Left onto Education Drive (at the first stoplight across from Cuesta College). Continue up for approximately 1.5 mile. Click here for directions.

We will have signs posted. 

Volunteer form

Fill out the volunteer form below completely. Space is limited; forms must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 13. A staff member will contact you with training details.


First Name (required)

Last Name (required)

Phone Number (required)

Your Email (required)

Over age 18? (required)

I understand that the terrain may be uneven or rough both at the training and survey sites.(required)

Training on Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. is required. Are you available to attend this training?(required)

What days and times are you available to conduct a 5-hour bioassessment survey?

What else should we know about you? Do you have special training or skills that makes you a great match for this volunteer opportunity? Are you new to bioassessment, but eager to learn?

How did you hear about this volunteer opportunity?
Prior participationThrough schoolFrom a friendEstuary Program websiteFacebookOther


Morro Bay National Estuary Program brings together citizens, local governments, non-profits, agencies, and landowners to protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary.

Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.