Thursday, July 12, 2012

USFWS Internship - Spring 2012 Education and Outreach - Part 1

Zach Moore
One of the great aspects about my internship with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Office (USFWS) Fisheries Division has been the diversity of experiences I have had working with multiple USFWS biologists and technicians. While my last two blog posts focused on biological field work, I also participated in a variety of education and outreach work. It would be difficult to understate the importance of this line of work. From an academic standpoint, it aligns perfectly with my environmental education major. From a professional standpoint, I am aware of the emphasis the USFWS places on connecting people with nature. Having these skills will strengthen my resume and, from a personal standpoint, it has been a great experience sharing my love for and knowledge of the outdoors with the next generation.

My first outreach assignment involved teaching fish anatomy to several groups of students. The dissections were definitely one of my favorite activities--they generated a lot of excitement from everyone. Even students who were hesitant to participate at first ended up inspecting and passing around salmon organs before the lesson was over. Most of the kids left the lesson really excited about what they had learned about fish biology.

Fish dissection
My next assignment involved leading students in several activities designed to teach them about salmon life history during their class field trip visits to Quilcene National Fish Hatchery. For one activity, students constructed bracelets with beads that represented the various stages, migration, habitats, and hazards of the salmon life cycle. This was a great example of how you can teach biology through art. Another activity focused on how salmon rely on their sense of smell to navigate back to their natal (home) stream to spawn. For this activity, students were blindfolded and introduced to a scent that represented their natal stream. Participants then made a migration, attempting to find their home stream using their sense of smell. This activity really helped students understand a biological process that is very awe-inspiring.

To be continued . . .

--Zach Moore, USFWS Intern/Fisheries Technician

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