Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Columbia FWCO Makes a Splash at the Public Library
Midwest Region, August 5, 2010
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On a warm August night, patrons of the Columbia Public Library were treated to some aquatic fun.  There were kiddy pools to splash in, bubbles to play with, and live fish – courtesy of Columbia FWCO.  The event organized by Children and Youth Services Coordinator, Sarah Howard, was a culmination of summer activities, under the theme “Make a Splash Read”.  The aim of the event was to get children interested in reading by making the library a fun destination.  Our specific goal this night was to educate the public in matters regarding the Missouri River and the fish that call it home. 


Columbia FWCO staff  Colby Wrasse, Patty Herman, Randi Preece and Clint Feger showcased several of the larger species common to the Missouri River, including: common carp, shovelnose sturgeon, longnose gar, shortnose gar, and flathead catfish.  Children and adults alike marveled at the shovelnose sturgeon’s prehistoric appearance and the longnose gar’s mouth full of sharp teeth. 


Given the hot weather, nobody seemed to mind getting splashed by the large common carp.  The audience enthusiastically gathered around the tanks as we talked about the fish and answered questions.  Some of the common questions asked by children included: what do they eat, where do they sleep, are they sharks, will it bite me, and can I pet it?  We also distributed free literature concerning the Missouri River, native fish and invasive species.


One enthusiastic young library patron was especially excited about our live fish exhibit.  When he found out about our fish in the courtyard, he charged out the door towards our display in hopes of seeing a walleye.  Though we didn’t have a walleye for this event, he was quite excited to see the “king” and “queen” of the Big Muddy.  His parents explained to us that they had participated in the Columbia WOW school earlier this year and had received a deck of the “Fishes of the Big Muddy” cards as well as a booklet of Missouri River Fishes. 


He loved to read the cards and to match the fishes to the pictures in the booklet.  He knew right away that the gars were queens and the flathead was a king.  We were proud to realize that we had provided the tools for a young person to explore and investigate the wonders of the outdoor world.     


Approximately 200 people, mostly children and their parents attended the festivities.  This event was yet another example of Columbia FWCO’s dedication to Connecting People with Nature.  Outreach venues, like a public library, allow us the opportunity to speak with people who may have limited interaction with nature, and who likely have never really thought about the Missouri River and the fishes that live there. 


 For Randi and Clint this was their first opportunity to perform outreach with Columbia FWCO, and it proved to be a great learning experience for them.  Even though Patty and Colby have performed outreach at dozens of events, they still learn something new each time.  Thank you to Sarah Howard and the rest of the Columbia Public Library staff for their hospitality and allowing us to partake in their activities.




Contact Info: Colby Wrasse, 573-234-2132 x30, colby_wrasse@fws.gov
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