Volunteer Interview – Lisa Helms Guba

Published: December 16, 2022

Lisa, on the right, helping take the clarity reading
We have many wonderful volunteers who come out to during the summer to help with our Water Quality Monitoring program. Lisa volunteered 60.5 hours this year. Read her thoughts on volunteering for SRA below:
1. How did you hear about the Severn River Association?
I first heard about the Severn River Association from our homeowners association, East Pendennis Mount and how they were looking for volunteers to help out with Water Quality monitoring (WQM). Having grown up in Lake Oswego, Oregon and been on the water most of my life, the idea of volunteering to help monitor the Severn River seemed like a natural fit.
2. When did you first start volunteering?
In 2019, my son was looking for volunteer opportunities and we contacted Tom Guay about the SRA’s water quality monitoring program and both of us ended up volunteering. My son is now at the Coast Guard Academy studying Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. I enjoyed my volunteer experience so much that I have continued to help with the water quality monitoring program.
3. What do you like most about volunteering with SRA?
The Severn River provides a unique biodiversity for critical habitat with an amazing array of plants and animals including submerged aquatic vegetation, crustaceans, oysters, crabs, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.  Each WQM tour brings an array of  diverse encounters with the natural habitat whether it be an osprey, bald eagle, great blue heron, kingfishers, turtles, rays, beavers and schools of fish. I have learned a lot about the importance of the Severn River through volunteering and how it’s an important watershed not only for the natural habitat but also for our fisherman and  recreational boating/swimming.

4. Do you have a favorite story?
On October 28, 2021, it was a beautiful sunny fall day and we went out for our scheduled WQM.  It was forecasted to be one of the biggest tidal flood events of the past 10-20 years that weekend.  On that particular day, we noticed with the incoming high tides in which the water levels were rising with many docks completely submerged. The water color was browner than normal due to the mixing of the river and high tides.  It was “the calm before the storm” in that the next day high winds and rain caused tremendous flooding throughout the Severn River and downtown Annapolis.  It was something we had not seen on the Severn River since Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

5. What would you say to potential volunteers?
If you care about the Severn River’s health and well-being, we invite you to join us and help keep it clean and green by volunteering for the Severn River Association.  Not only will you be monitoring the health of the Severn to help protect our most valuable assets of the river, you will meet an amazing group of volunteers who share the common thread of wanting to help make an impact on protecting the Severn River.

6. Any closing remarks?
In our family travels, we always look at the water clarity of the surrounding rivers and lakes.  The one question we always ask, why does the Severn River not have the pristine water clarity in comparison.  By volunteering at the SRA, you will be part of the solution by helping with  WQM and the information is used to formulate action  (such as oyster plantings, storm water drainage remediation, decrease in the use of pesticides/herbicides).  We each can make a difference in making the Severn River a better place to fish, boat and swim in for not only today but for generations to come.