BY ASHLEY SMITH, GREEN BAY FWCO
“Who wants to learn about fish?” The scoutmaster asked. 30 excited hands shot up.
“Me me me!” the boys cried.
Late last fall three members from the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Program visited Cub Scout Pack 4015 in Green Bay Wisconsin, a group of boys from 2nd to 6th grade. Green Bay FWCO staff had several tables filled with specimens and mounts of invasive species, and they had even brought along smaller versions of their field gear in order to show the boys how they caught fish.
The scouts first learned of the goals of the Service, and it was explained to the Scouts how every time they buy a lure or a fishing rod, a little bit of the money went back to fund the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Then staff explained what aquatic invasive species were, how they affected Lake Michigan, and what steps the scouts could take on their own to slow down their spread. The boys come up and investigated some of the gear that biologists use to sample fish. The scouts also took a look at the different invasive species specimens, such as sea lamprey, round gobies, and Eurasian ruffe.
The whole time, the scouts were very vocal and eager to ask questions, and also to show off their knowledge of fish. They were excited to learn about invasive species, and what they could do to help stop their spread. Many parents and siblings also enjoyed the displays and presentation. After the presentation, some of them came up to ask questions as well.
Hopefully, this event helped raise awareness of what invasive species are, and showed people what they could do to help. It’s especially important to reach out to young people. After all, they are the next generation of hunters, boaters, fishermen, and maybe even fish biologists!