As the population in the United States continues to grow the potential for adverse impacts on aquatic resources, including habitat, will increase. At the same time, demands for responsible, quality recreational fishing experiences will also increase. The Service has a long tradition of providing opportunities for public enjoyment of aquatic resources through recreational fishing, habitat restoration, education programs, and through mitigating impacts of Federal water projects.
Hatchery Outdoor Program (HOP)
The HOP program includes many activities such as Fishing Skills 101, bird viewing, wildflower printmaking, micro habitats along the Overlook Trail and "Composting with Worms", "Dipping for Invertebrates", finding edible and medicinal plants along the Ashe Juniper trail, and observing various habitats along Overlook Trail, as well as Masters casters. Programs vary from year to year but these are some of the favorites.
Environmental Education Center
In 2012 renovation was completed on a 70-year old stone cottage, formerly owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority, for an Environmental Education building. The Friends of Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery completed the education building interior renovations and landscaping. The purpose of the Environmental Education building is to provide interpretive and educational materials and programs that will enhance the visiting public’s appreciation of our Nation’s fish and wildlife resources.
Youth Conservation Corp. (YCC) and Cool Week
Each summer Inks Dam NFH participates in the USFWS Southwest Region YCC program. Students interested in summer employment should contact the hatchery for applications and information. YCC students learn hatchery operations, assist with tours and maintenance projects, and even participate in stocking fish alongside fishery biologists. YCC students have also participated in the USFWS "Pollinator Challenge" Project which included habitat restoration and enhancements, luncheon meetings with staff to disseminate pollinator information and putting up a display at the Bertram Library.
Cool week is a 30 hour program has been occurring at Inks Dam NFH for 5 years and is part of the Leander ISD’s “Career Opportunities on Location” or “COOL” for short. The senior students have an aspiration to obtain college degrees in the biological sciences and hopefully obtain future employment in the biological field of study. Typically, one student per year participates but during 2011 three senior students participated in the program. Students become involved in many phases of hatchery work including cleaning culture tanks, monitoring water quality using electronic meters, monitoring water clarity using a Secchi disk, feeding fish, entering data into spreadsheets, and performing equipment maintenance. Additionally, the three students were also provided direction on degree requirements for Service related jobs, how to search for jobs on various federal, state, and academic job boards, and mock-interviews were conducted along with a critique of their resumes and their interview skills.
Hatchery Outdoor Program
Starting in 2008 the hatchery began the HOP program, which receives approximately 300 -375 visitors. This program is held annually during the month of May and lasts two to three weeks. This program is put on for the local school districts every year in the spring. The program is to draw middle-school aged children into the outdoors by the various activities and show many of the “naturally” fun things that can be done while outdoors. Contact Inks Dam for more information.
In 2012 Inks Dam had approximately 19,000 visitors of all ages at the property with an additional 1,000 youth with off-sight education related programs. The hatchery also participates in community events outside the hatchery. Events we have participated in previously are listed below (participation is not guaranteed every year).
In 2012 and 2013 the hatchery assited in the Steve Harvey Mentoring event by supplying catfish for the young men in attendance, and hope to continue to participate for as long as the event continues. To learn more about the event and the hatchery participation read our article, For the second year, Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery assists partners with the Steve Harvey Mentoring Event, posted in Field Notes in June 2013.