On September 24, a face-to-face training-seminar for teachers and volunteers took place in St. Petersburg. This annual seminar about projects and programs of the Friends of the Baltic traditionally takes place at the beginning of the academic year. This year we had an opportunity to thanks to enlarge the scale of participation up to 45 people due to support of the transboundary cooperation project SEVIRA «Water meets people: learn, act & influence».

The seminar was attended by teachers and volunteers. Mostly participants of the River Watch program of the Coalition Clean Baltic, volunteers, environmentalists, activists from St. Petersburg, Vyborgsky, Luga, Lodeynopolsky, Gatchinsky districts of Leningrad region. Among them long-term partners - researchers of rivers and the coast of the Gulf of Finland, participants of climate projects, and new participants who were ready to join the Friends of the Baltic team of friends.

Most of the workshop was devoted to public monitorings of rivers, springs and other water bodies. This year Friends of the Baltic together with volunteers have been updating the list of active members of the River Watch team. As well as expanding the range of objects under study. Within the transboundary cooperation project between Russia and Finland «Water meets people: learn, act & influence» (SEVIRA), we investigate the state of Sestra and Seleznevka river basins to find ways to improve the quality of natural waters on the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, especially in the border regions. The Clean Baltic Coalition program continues monitorings of natural waters on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.

Participation in the «Clean Springs - Healthy Baltic» project allows us to continue monitorings of underground water sources - important objects of drinking water supply and river drainage basins parts. Thanks to the seminar, the number of River Watch team participants has grown even more - today there are already 45 teachers and more than 100 students.

Participation in public research of water bodies is mutually beneficial for both teachers and NGOs. The cooperation gives teachers and students ideas for new projects. The River Watch teams monitor objects that are of the most interest to them. Students get involved in environmental research, gain new skills by presenting their work at the «Eco-monitoring of rivers and the coast of the Gulf of Finland» annual conference and other scientific conferences, performing with teams at the River Festiva. The Festival is traditionally taking place each year on different rivers of the Leningrad Region. Friends of the Baltic provide equipment for water research for chemical indicators and microplastics, and teachers share the research results and identify potential sources of water pollution, which we put on the Public River Watch Map. Together we are promoting citizen science. Thanks to public research, we can collect much more data on the state of the environment than scientific and research organizations can. The more water bodies are monitored, the better is understanding of the current state of the environment, which makes it possible to offer relevant recommendations for eliminating undesirable factors.

In the framework of the seminar Friends of the Baltic held water research training. Our experts demonstrated special equipment that helps determine nitrates and phosphates, ammonium, pH, mineralization and dissolved oxygen. We recently updated the methodology for public research on microplastics and marine litter and informed participants about ongoing projects on plastic pollution and how everyone can participate in each. Additionally, we demonstrated equipment to monitor microplastics in water bodies. For five years now, Friends of the Baltic have successfully been promoting research on microplastics in Russia. But there is still very little data on synthetic microfibers in our country, though such materials are the main source of microplastics in water. Thus this can be quite a good topic for school research. After the equipment demonstration participants could take the equipment they need for research. The methodological manual «River Watch» was also available.

The development of interactive informal climate education is an important area of work for Friends of the Baltic. At the meeting we talked about the «ACCT - Acting on Climate Change Together» project. The project's goal is to provide educators, activists and interested young people in the Northwest with tools that will make it easy to conduct interactive events about climate change.

​We are very glad that the seminar was held face-to-face and so many partners could become part of the event and continue their research.