CARE at the Columbia FWCO
BY AMBER MASTERS, COLUMBIA FWCO
This summer, the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) had some young helpers in amongst our busy field crews. Our participation in the City of Columbia’s Career Awareness and Related Experience (CARE) program brought two Columbia high school students, Molly Vornholt and Mayson Gregory onto our team.
CARE works with local employers to create job opportunities for high school students so that they have the ability to develop valuable life and job skills. Many of the interns have never had a job and would have had a difficult time finding one without any job experience. CARE’s mission is to provide those opportunities, guidance, and assistance during employment and ensure that the interns are getting the most out of their experiences.
In the past, CARE interns have helped the Columbia FWCO by undertaking tedious duties such as repairing nets and cleaning and helping with boat, vehicle and building maintenance. This summer, Molly and Mayson quickly proved that they had what it takes to be productive and valuable members of a field crew. In addition to working in the shop, they got out on the Missouri River for some first-hand fish wrangling! By being a part of our field crew, Molly and Mayson were able to get involved with the Columbia FWCO’s pallid sturgeon projects. They learned about the project goals, fisheries sampling techniques, and the ecology and biology of the Missouri River. Of course, they also got out on the boats, got muddy and messy and handled a menagerie of fish, turtles and aquatic invertebrates (Molly was able to handle and release an endangered pallid sturgeon!) - All while earning a paycheck and developing critical employment skills.
At the Columbia FWCO we always jump at any chance for educational programs and outreach, but the CARE program in particular gives us a very unique and special opportunity to engage our interns in fisheries, wildlife and conservation work. Hopefully, gaining such knowledge will inspire both of these students to be more conservation-minded in their outdoor activities and to share their new-found knowledge of pallid sturgeon and other fisheries issues with their friends, family and whoever they meet.