Monday, July 23, 2012

Fishing For a Future

This is an older column that I had published in the Kings County Record.  I thought it would be good to share it here.  The "Hooked on Conservation" workshops were a huge success with over 60kids taking part.  I felt proud of the job all the partners did to make these happen.
For a young boy there are very few adventures that top going fishing.  As a kid it isn't just about fishing it is about exploring new horizons, discovering new ground, and learning about various ecological cycles and habitats, even if, at the time, you don't realize.  There are many documents that demonstrate how kids who are active outside live a healthier and fuller life.  They no doubt also grow up with a greater appreciation of our natural world and place a greater value on keeping it natural and pristine.

As someone who works hard to protect and restore the natural ecosystems of the Kennebecasis River having people value the watershed is important.  One way to improve a person's perception of their surroundings is through helping them connect with it.  To form the way a young child perceives the watershed is a great place to start and will have a lasting and growing impact.  An upcoming event hosted by the Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC) hopes to increase the value young kids place on the health of their local rivers and streams.

"Hooked on Conservation" is a workshop that focuses on kids ages 8-14 who want to try fishing.  The hope is that the KWRC can educate the youth on methods of fishing that help maintain the fish populations while also increasing the child's understanding of fish habitats and habits.  The KWRC will host an event in Sussex, one in Apohaqui, and are planning one in Hampton.  Already a number of kids have registered and will learn some great techniques on how to catch the big one, not to mention how to find them.

While the day long workshops will teach kids how to fish, the best thing the kids will get is to actually spend an afternoon on the water fishing.  More than that they will dig their own worms, bait their own hooks, and release the fish they catch with their friends.  This is a memory maker for any kid.  In the future those who attend will value the Kennebecasis watershed more than they might have if they didn't attend the workshop. 

If they continue to fish beyond the workshop they will likely utilize more "fish friendly" techniques.  Catch and release fishing is just one of the techniques the KWRC will promote.  Using a barbless hook, minimal fish handling methods, along with other practices will aid in creating a more sustainable recreational fishery on the Kennebecasis River.  Cooking and cleaning trout will also be demonstrated as part of the workshop and the kids, although possibly a bit grossed out by this, will still take it in and remember it.  Another aspect of the workshop will be to encourage the kids to maintain and submit fishing journals that will help the KWRC monitor fish populations and health and provide government officials with better information to develop future management plans.  Through this workshop kids of today will learn so that kids of tomorrow can continue to make memories.

No comments: