Great Lakes Fisheries Management
High School Biology Students Learn Tools of the Trade
BY TIM SMIGIELSKI, REGIONAL OFFICE-FISHERIES
the presentations at the MDNR Charlevoix Research Station. Credit: Tim
In support of their new Salmon in the Classroom project 80 students and their teachers from Mancelona High School in Antrim County, Michigan took to the field. The students visited the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Charlevoix Great Lakes Research Station in October where part of the presentation was getting slimed by salmon at a nearby salmon harvest weir.
Mancelona Public Schools is a partner and active participant in nearby Jordan River National Fish Hatchery programs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) events. The MDNR Charlevoix research station has worked together with Jordan River NFH to share temporary student workers and provide diverse work experiences and affordable housing to students. So it was a natural fit for our Fisheries program Conservation Education Coordinator, Tim Smigielski to make the connection between Mancelona’s Biology teacher Jenny Angell and Charlevoix Research Station manager Dave Clapp and Maintenance supervisor Jeff Stevens. This group coordinated and scheduled the day afield for the biology classes in order to augment the new Salmon in the Classroom project, where Mrs. Angell’s’ students will be raising salmon from eggs provided by MDNR Platte River State Fish Hatchery. This project will commence in November of this year.
explains how a minnow trap works. Credit: Tim Smigielski, USFWS
Presentations were delivered in a rotating format and included experiences with, Great Lakes Fisheries Sampling (Patrick Hanchin, MDNR Charlevoix) where students became familiar with the gear biologists use to collect fish and fisheries data such as gill nets, trawls, trapnets and an even an electrofishing boat. Then it was on to the Great Lakes Mass Marking program with (Nick Arend and Barrett Warmbein, Seasonal Workers-USFWS Headhunters) where students observed the lab work involved in removal of Coded Wire Tags from salmon heads. Lessons on salmon anatomy and diet (stomach content) analysis rounded out the presentation. Now it was up the stairs to Fish Aging with (Dave Clapp MDNR Charlevoix), at this station students were introduced to an image analysis computer system. Displayed on the screen, were examples of fish scales, otoliths (ear bones), and spines (fin bones) and maxillaries (jaw bones) all structures that can be used in ageing fish. The young biologists learned the importance of fish age determination in assessing the growth and survival of fishes and in management of our fisheries.
All of this culminated in a trip to the Medusa Creek salmon harvest weir led by (Jeff Stevens and John Clevenger, MDNR Charlevoix) just down the road from the research station on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. The aspiring young biologists were schooled on salmon stocking and life history with most seeing and some handling live chinook salmon that were corralled in the raceway. And…it got a little messy!
Biology teacher Jenny Angell had this to say about the trip, “I was just reading the kids' assignment I had them do last week right after the field trip. Students were split pretty evenly between liking the aging station the best, liking the weir (and getting slimed) and being fascinated by the CWT removal. My students were very appreciative of your staff and the time you all took with them. Thank you all so very much for this awesome experience!”
And so…this is why we do it, continue to make the time, continue to coordinate the events and continue to pass on the knowledge and passion for our natural resources, fisheries conservation and all that nature has to offer. If we only reach one of those eighty students and they become a concerned citizen or choose a career in this field…then it is all worth it. Special thanks to the outstanding young people who were willing to share their knowledge and unique experiences, Annalise Povolo, Samantha Morsches and Mike Diefenbach, all seasonal workers with MDNR Charlevoix Research Station.