Wilmington Illinois Students Learn Fish Anatomy
BY BRANDON FALISH, CARTERVILLE FWCO WILMINGTON, IL SUBSTATION
Falish guides them through a dissection of an invasive carp.
Growing up with the Great Lakes as my back yard my parents ensured I knew the beauty and importance of the outdoors. When I was in middle school, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) representative came to my middle school and told me about how a foreign enemy (Sea Lamprey) had invaded my Great Lakes and was degrading an ecosystem that I loved, I was infuriated. That experience still plays a big part in my life today.
Community outreach and education is a very important part of what we do at the USFWS. Children are the future of our great nation and I believe that it is critical to inform them at a young age about the importance of the outdoors, the threats that face it and the work that we do at the Service to protect it. Furthermore, we must continue to instill this knowledge over the course of their lives so they understand the necessity of monitoring and maintaining ecosystems.
parts during an anatomy lesson provided
by USFWS Wilmington Substation staff.
This past November, I had the opportunity to work with Laura Kuczkowski, a 7th grade Science teacher at Wilmington Middle School, to provide a lesson on anatomy to her students. The class started with a power point presentation that went over the different research projects that our office conducted and why we were doing them. Then we discussed the reasons why Asian carp are such a big problem, such as their high growth rate, reproductive success and their ability to out-compete native fish species for food and habitat. Lastly, we went into the lab to dissect a Silver Carp specimen and went over the external and internal anatomy of the fish. Each class was able to get some hands on experience and hold the internal organs to get a better idea of what makes a fish unique. While a few students held back on this opportunity, most were very eager to poke around. The children asked many questions throughout my lesson and seemed to retain a lot of the information when I quizzed them at the end of each lesson. One of the students told me, “This is the coolest lab we have had all year!”I felt welcomed by all of the students and staff at Wilmington Middle School. It was a nice surprise to see Adam Spicer, the Wilmington Middle School Principle and Dr. Matthew Swick, the Wilmington School District Superintendent, attend one of my lessons and ask some questions of their own afterwards. It is apparent that the Wilmington School District is a community dedicated to keeping their students well informed about the importance of different ecological issues and preserving our environment. I look forward to working with them in the future and continuing our collaborative outreach efforts for years to come.