Sunday, May 10, 2015

Youth Aquatic Resource Education (YARE) May, 2015

On May 2 & 3, over 20 teachers, educators and students gathered at the Cornell 
Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake in Central NY for a joint workshop on 
Youth Aquatic Resource Education (YARE).  The workshop featured hands-on 
instruction and training for teaching youth about water quality monitoring, 
aquatic ecology and fishing.  These educational topics are fostered within the 
shared missions of the workshop's sponsoring organizations - the Izaak Walton 
League of America (IWLA), Project Watershed and the NY Chapter of the American 
Fisheries Society (NY AFS).  

On Day 1, IWLA Clean Waters Fellow Erin Johnson led a fun filled day of Creek 
Freaks training that included an interactive introduction to the many classroom 
lessons the program offers and in-field experiences at nearby Chittenango Creek 
for water chemistry, physical habitat measurements and aquatic macroinvertebrate 
sampling.  Workshop participants were not disappointed, as they discovered all 
sorts of interesting organisms, including mayflies, stoneflies, water penny 
beetles, invasive rusty crayfish and newly developing walleye eggs with live 
embryos inside!  The day concluded with an old fashioned, battered fish fry 
provided by the CNY Chapter of IWLA. 

On Day 2, the YARE activities were led by the workshop's organizing committee 
which included CNY Chapter of IWLA member Tom Hughes, along with Erik Hazelton, 
Ian Kenney, Ellen George and Tom Daniel, who are all student members of the NY 
Chapter AFS from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Cornell 
University.  Similar to the first day, instruction included a morning classroom 
training on why and how to implement youth aquatic resource education programs 
followed by an in-field training that included fish ecology & identification, an 
introduction to the basics of sport fishing, and hands-on opportunities to learn 
the professional techniques for fish sampling, including trap netting, beach 
seining and backpack electrofishing.  Again, workshop participants were super 
excited, as they enjoyed the unique opportunity to see and touch so many of the 
fascinating fishes that swim in CNY's waters, including smallmouth & largemouth 
bass, pickerel, walleye, white perch, crappie, freshwater drum, bowfin, burbot 
and many more! 

The research and instructional staff at Cornell Biological Field Station (CBFS) 
deserve high praise, as they were terrific hosts for this workshop.  CBFS staff 
went above and beyond by working throughout the week before the workshop 
collecting a tremendous diversity of fish species and holding them happy and 
healthy in an enormous aquarium for the workshop participants to experience.  In 
addition, CBFS Research Support Specialist Tom Brooking set up an informative 
display that featured Sturgeon For Tomorrow, a non-profit organizational effort 
to promote the continued protection, conservation and recovery of lake sturgeon 
in Oneida Lake and throughout New York State. 

All in all, these were great days out on the water!