150 years ago, people started noticing that populations of America’s fisheries were in distress and could no longer sustain themselves with the current pressures being placed on them. In response, the people called upon Congress to act and on February 9th, 1871, the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries was established. This new commission had its work cut out for it, as they had to determine if the fish populations were indeed declining and if so, try to find ways to stop the decline. 150 years later, the Commission is still going strong, but is currently known as the Fish and Aquatic Conservation (FAC) program.
As part of the FAC’s 150 Year Celebration, the idea to create a quilt representing every member of the FAC was born. The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives, located in Spearfish, South Dakota, in partnership with their Friends Group, the Booth Society took on the task of gathering quilt squares from all Fish and Aquatic Conservation Centers and coordinated the assembly of the quilt.
The quilt represents more than 70 facilities, with each facility making up one quilt block. Each block is as unique as the facility it represents. It is more than 56 square feet and is made up of 87 quilt squares representing Hatcheries, Fish Health and Tech Centers, and Fish and Wildlife Conservation offices. This concept is unique enough, but the different approaches taken by each facility adds to its uniqueness. Some facilities had theirs made professionally, others had them made by employees/volunteers at their facility and some reached out to community members to make them. To add to the unique factor, there are a multitude of different styles and media on the quilt. There are some with symbolic patches, some cross-stitched blocks, some screen printed, some quilt squares used tiny pieces of fabric to create an image, and some were even beautifully painted.
While there seems to be no cohesiveness in the media or style of the squares in the project, once they were sown together, the quilt was as beautiful and unique as the people that make up the FAC. Other than the threads that hold it together, the goal and passion that went into the quilt by the FAC individuals is what really connected the pieces to create the beautiful work of art.