Green Bay Cub Scouts Learn about Asian Carp
BY BRANDON FALISH, CARTERVILLE FWCO, WILMINGTON, IL SUBSTATION
Working as a Biological Science Technician with the Carterville Fish and Wildlife Office (FWCO) Wilmington, Illinois (IL) substation, my main job duties involve sampling the Chicago Area Waterway System and upper Illinois River for adult and juvenile Asian carp to monitor changes in population size relative to location in a river system. Although my main job duties are out in the field, a secondary task (and also a passion of mine) is to educate our youth about the importance of the work that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service performs. Getting children interested in learning more about the outdoors or maybe even getting some to pursue a career in fisheries and wildlife management is important.
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Marian Shaffer and Trina Soyk, both biologists from the Green Bay FWCO, and Danelle Kornowski, Den leader of Cub Scout troop 4167, to give a presentation for approximately 50 children ranging from 6-12 years old. The goal of the presentation was to inform kids as to what our work entails and also to demonstrate the importance of issues such as Aquatic Invasive Species and illegal poaching.
This fall the children learned about Asian carp and Sea Lamprey, and what we are doing to prevent the spread of these as well as other invasive species. Furthermore, they had the opportunity to see a Silver Carp specimen and investigate their internal organs. Needless to say, the children were very eager to throw on a pair of gloves and dig in. There were many questions ranging from, “Do you really fish for a living?” to “Why do they have a balloon in their body?” (referring to the air bladder). There were so many questions throughout the presentation that I could not answer them all. They even continued to ask questions as I cleaned up my presentation. Several parents attended and watched curiously from the back of the room. Shortly afterwards, they were quick to grab a copy of the pamphlet and power point slides that I brought along.
My favorite comment of the day was, “I want to be a fish man when I grow up!” That, in a nutshell, is why I love doing what I do. To me, education is the most important element of the future preservation of our ecosystem. They are our future and it is vital that we implement these ideals in them at a young age. If at the end of the day, I can get just one child a little more interested in the conservation and management of fish and wildlife then I feel like I am doing my part.