By: Emma Bode

Adventure Scientist Emma Bode has collected microplastic water samples around the world, including in her own backyard of Bozeman, Montana. She won our #GallatinSampling Instagram contest for best collection photo and will be receiving a Peak Design Messenger Bag to take with her on her next adventure.
I began volunteering with Adventure Scientists in the fall of 2015 on the Gallatin Microplastic Initiative, the first study of its kind. At the headwaters of the Missouri River, the Gallatin Valley provides a superb opportunity to observe the effects of urbanization on a pristine watershed. Teams of two sample four times a year along a section of the Gallatin River or one of its many tributaries. A force of over 60 volunteers make it possible to collect 70 samples during a ten day period.
​Full disclosure: before I began volunteering, I was already a microplastic geek. Naturally, I was stoked to have the opportunity to work on a solution to this ubiquitous environmental problem in my own community. What I didn’t know was that the sampling experience would be rewarding in so many other ways.

I’ve spent ample time near the Gallatin River, but participating in this initiative focused my attention. Deliberately walking along its tributary made me wonder: where did that water came from, where is it going? Returning to the same section of river each season kindled a precious intimacy with my sampling sites.

​The Initiative also deepened my connection with the community. The Gallatin Microplastic Initiative unites fly fishers, kayakers, hikers, skiers, and runners under a common mission. We are multi-generational, dedicated athletes and casual day trippers, students by profession and students at heart. The Initiative facilitates a cross pollination of interests, knowledge, and experience.

PictureEmma Bode and Jessie Bohn sampling the Gallatin. PC: Kirra Paulus

Collecting samples while adventuring is grounding. It offers a sense of purpose to a wildly self-indulgent outdoor culture. As an undergraduate in the Environmental Sciences, the project provides further meaning for me by putting what I learn in class into context.

Lastly, Adventure Scientists knows the way to a college student’s heart. They throw down on local and healthy food, good beer, and cool shwag. Their events are always organized, compassionate, and respectful of the valuable time volunteers give them. Thank you Adventure Scientists!


Emma enjoys t-shirt weather while sampling the Gallatin in June. PC Jessie Bohn

​Emma Bode resides in Bozeman MT where she is an undergraduate studying environmental science with a focus in geospatial analysis. An enthusiastic advocate for environmental health, economic prosperity, and social equality, Emma believes that the three are interdependent. On a day off, you can find Emma adventuring, cooking good food with friends, or crafting her next piece of eccentric attire.
Find out more about Adventure Scientists projects by visiting our website and by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.