Friday, September 30, 2011

My Life Aquatic 2011 - Youth Fisheries Academy - Day Camp Season Comes to a Close

Hello, it’s Tree again! As July came to a close, so did the Youth Fisheries Academy day camp season. The last camp was particularly memorable as we ended this year’s programming with a huge success.

The final camp took place at a beautiful location at a restoration site along Deer Creek near Shelton. We worked with a group of student employees from the Mason County 4-H Forestry Leadership Summer program, which enrolls up to 24 high school students, giving them a chance to learn about managing natural resources sustainably through hands-on experiences helping natural resource professionals with service-learning projects. It was a perfect fit as the program is also designed for students who want to explore and experience activities in forestry and wildlife-related careers.

Measuring cobble size
Trying to explain the importance of, as well as different ways to measure canopy cover, vegetation, river discharge, streambed cobble size, and macroinvertebrates, is a lot to cover in 1 hour, but this group of high school students actually made the lesson easy. During my time in college, I’ve done field labs that use a gravelometer to measure cobble size and determine streambed make up, which is one of the exercises we do at the stream sampling station. The youngest participants of the season were under 10 years old, so needless to say they have a great head start! Many of these activities were simplified for the younger campers, but that wasn’t necessary for this group of high school students as they were eager to learn the tools of the ecologists’ trade. I was very impressed with how enthusiastic they were and how quickly they leaned and utilized the methods taught.

I was happy to end on such a good note with an amazing group of students who seemed to truly enjoy and benefit from the camp. At the end of the day, I think that all of the students learned a great deal about the importance and function of fish and wildlife, as well as how we can gain information about them.

--Tree Steele, STEP Fisheries Technician