What is your job title? I'm an assistant supportive scientist with the Illinois State Water Survey Hydrology Division. I work for the Office of Sediment and Wetland Studies. What do you do in that position? Mainly, my job is with the Lake Decatur project, taking water samples and measuring water flow at eight stations, and maintaining stream gauges at six locations, all between Fisher and Decatur. A big chunk of my job is field work, but I also take the lab analysis of the water samples and put the information into the database. What is your average work week like? Every week, year-round, [I and my assistant] have to go to the eight stations and take the samples and measurements. We probably drive about 200 miles a week to go to all the stations. When it rains, we have to go out more often because we have to take flow measurements from those times. I spend about half my time in the office putting the lab analysis of the samples and other information into the database. There's a lot of information gathered from the eight stations. I do a lot of plotting [on graphs] of the water-stage data, but the water-quality measurements go to an EPA-certified [Environmental Protection Agency] lab for testing. What happens to all this data you are collecting and entering into a computer? Eventually it gets put into a report. Cities in the area are interested in this report because it's the only long-term study of nitrate levels done in the area. The study has been going on for three years now. The city of Decatur is funding the project. What kind of background do you have that prepares you for this job? I have a master's degree in environmental biology and training in limnology [the study of the physical, chemical and biological properties of water] and fisheries management. Those are my big areas of interest. I had done a small-streams study for the city of Mattoon with a consultant. Mattoon had improved its water treatment plant and the city wanted to see if it affected water quality in the area. It did. What else is involved in the field work besides collecting water samples and reading gauges? You take in a lot of information about what is happening in the area of the streams when you gather the samples and measurements. You make observations about what's going on throughout the year in the watershed, so you have to have a basic knowledge of water chemistry. I also do some on-site testing for nitrates with a small test kit, which helps us plan where we have to go next. What is the toughest part of your job? It's probably the field work, in the rain. I have a 30-pound weight [equipment] on my back and I'm trying to take readings and there's a clipboard tied on at my hip and it's miserable. But it's satisfying when I see the results and see we really needed that measurement that day in that weather. What is the best part of your job? I get to enjoy the outdoors. Even in the winter, I really enjoy being out in the stream. I get my hip boots on and go wading out there. It's just beautiful.