Fisheries biological science technician Gershom Bigham points out features of the Lodi FWO’s electrofishing boat Zeus for Richard Gonzales and his son Jaxon during the annual NorCal Science Festival at Tokay High School in Lodi on April 23, 2022.

The Lodi Fish and Wildlife Office makes it a priority each year to support its community and connect with youths through a variety of fun and educational activities.

“It's fun seeing teens' eyes light up when explaining some of the cool projects we get to work on daily,” Gershom Bigham, fisheries biological science technician, said after spending April 23, 2022, at the NorCal Science Festival. “We get to give the public an in-depth view of the work we are doing and create some buzz with the cool gear and techniques we use to collect biological data.”

Twelve members of the Lodi FWO supported the festival that day, teaching students of all ages about fish in their local area and career opportunities in the Service. The team brought an electrofishing boat to Tokay High School in Lodi, California, for the annual event and set up an aquarium with live fish, microscopes with formerly live fish, and other hands-on activities and exhibits. Three Service members also appeared on a career panel for high schoolers.

“It's cool to think I'm helping others discover their passion for the sciences and the important work being done to protect and conserve our resources,” Bigham said. “I feel as if I'm paving the way for others just as those before me.”

The annual Science Festival is just one of many outreach and educational activities the Lodi FWO supports on a regular basis. Each year, staff members also visit with students at schools like Primary Years Academy in Stockton, Discovery Charter Elementary School in Tracy and Millennium High School in Tracy. The Lodi FWO  team presents lessons on a wide variety of scientific topics and introduces hands-on learning experiences like “Living Food Web: The Race to Survive” — an obstacle-course-like event that simulates the challenges facing young salmon fry in a river. The team also supports the Pittsburg Unified School District’s annual educational field trips to the Corteva Wetlands Preserve.

Aleeza Shah, right, and her sister Khadijah look at fish under a microscope April 23 during the NorCal Science Festival at Tokay High School in Lodi, California.

During the summer, a group from the FWO sets up seine nets in the San Joaquin River with campers at the Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center in Manteca. When the nets are pulled back in, the campers help sort and identify the fish species captured, then release them back into the water.  

Lessons with youths often conclude with a discussion of the ways each of us impacts the ecosystem and ways to lessen our negative influence by being water-conscious.

The Lodi team also enjoys interacting with people at events like the annual Return of the Salmon Festival at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, the Feather River Salmon Festival in Oroville, the Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival and the World Championship Abalone Cook-Off.

If you’d like members of the Lodi team to visit your school, camp or event, please contact Lori Smith at .