Fisheries, Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
Engaging the Next Generation

At the 5th Annual Detroit River Kids Fishing Festival a family prepares for a day of fishing and fun! ​ ​Credit: Keith Tolman,​  ​Detroit RiverFront Conservancy

The youth of today hold the future of fisheries conservation in their hands. However, several generations of Americans are unaware of the fact the natural resource agencies including the Fish and Wildlife Service can’t go it alone when it comes to stewardship of our waters, aquatic species and their habitats. During the history of fisheries and aquatic species conservation programs in this country, there has never been a greater need for passionate and empowered citizen conservationists. The US Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Program in the Midwest Region is committed to engaging youth in nature and the great outdoors. We provide opportunities to learn about fish, other aquatic species and their habitats through: outdoor learning areas, field study opportunities, outdoor recreation events, and developing innovative ways of delivering science literacy programs and promoting connections with nature. The Midwest Region Fisheries Program also engages youth and adults through our Volunteers, Friends Groups, partnerships with States and Tribes and through various youth employment programs. In doing so all of us will better understand the world around us, as well as how to enjoy and steward it for conservationists yet to come.


These high school biology students take a little closer look at the anatomy of a salmon during one of the presentations at the MDNR Charlevoix Research Station. Credit: Tim Smigielski, USFWS

The Service’s field stations and partner­ship programs offer a myriad of oppor­tunities for young people and families to play in the outdoors. Working with partners and friends, the Midwest Region National Fish Hatcheries and other Fisheries stations provide unique and meaningful opportunities to freely experience our natural world. Youth fishing events, outdoor classroom activities, archery, trapping, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing can be experienced for the first time or repeated again and again on and off Service lands.


The Service has fostered environmental literacy, stewardship, and conserva­tion for decades. Our Midwest Region Fisheries staff provides learning opportunities that engage thousands of young people, educators, and families through hands-on outdoor experiences, formal classroom and laboratory curriculums and other non-formal education activities based on local needs and realities. While no two environmental education programs are exactly alike, many can be grouped into programs that have similar characteristics in the meth­odologies used and audiences targeted. Volunteers and partners are critically important in environmental education and enable the Service to reach thousands more.

Students from the South Shore Elementary School in Iron River, Wisconsin assisted Iron NFH staff in planting spruce trees on the hatchery grounds. The trees will soon grow up to provide a much needed wind break for the trail system that winds through the beautiful landscape at Iron River NFH. Credit: USFWS


Volunteers, Friends, and partners are valuable allies of the Service and vital to fulfilling our mission. Each year, they give generously of their time, expertise and resources to the Midwest Region National Fish Hatchery System and other Fisheries Program offices. Volunteers, Friends, and partners are critically important resources for youth programming in this Region and throughout the Ser­vice.  Thank You All!


Using a variety of employment authorities, programs, and working with approximately 90 nonprofit partners, the Service employs over 2000 youth ages 15 – 25 annually. Without these young people much of the work that is accomplished would simply go undone. Whether they contribute as Volunteers, Interns, Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) students or Youth Partner Hires; the Midwest Region National Fish Hatcheries and other Fisheries Program offices provide real world experiences that prepare young people for the work place and introduce them to the mission of the Service and challenges and rewards of fisheries conservation in the Midwest Region.

Pathways Student Conducts a Spawning and Recruitment Study in Restored Wetlands: Female Northern pike captured in a fyke net, entering a restored wetland to spawn. Credit: Rachel Van Dam, USFWS

For more information about youth employment opportunities and conservation education programs within the USFWS Midwest Region Fisheries program contact Tim Smigielski, Regional Fisheries Conservation Education Coordinator at or at (231) 584-3540.