A study in Environmental Education Grant Writing
Jim Boase, Martha Carlson, Renee Poitras
Operation Fish is a project aimed at teaching aquatic ecology, fisheries management, and angling skills to third graders in Ann Arbor Public Schools. Through hands-on experiences and fieldtrips to a local fish hatchery and state park, students will gain valuable fish stocking and angling knowledge and positive attitudes toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems. Storybook creation and pre- and post-testing, respectively, will measure the effectiveness of the program in attaining these two goals. A partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division (MDNR), the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), and Project FISH will be sustained for many years through this program. In order to cover implementation and operation costs, we request $2425.
Those associated with fisheries management deem youth education critical to developing a responsible citizenry with respect to fisheries resources. Environmental issues related to fisheries are becoming increasingly complex, making public involvement by an informed citizenry even more valuable and necessary (Zint and Dann, 1995; Zint and Crook, 1998). However, young people currently lack exposure to recreational fishing (Sparano, 1995), and kids that don’t fish in their first 14 years are unlikely to fish at all (Bourjaily, 1999). Education has been considered the most important factor for curbing fishery habitat loss (Recht, 1994). Fisheries education has the potential to combine both environmental and economic issues and to provide the youth with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to form a foundation for aquatic stewardship. With this base, children will have the preliminary tools they will need on the road to responsible citizenry with respect to fisheries resources (Burger, 2000). An effective way of creating an informed citizenry is to begin at an early age, in youth education. Recognizing the importance of youth education in fisheries resources, in 1984 the U.S. government instated the Wallop-Breaux Amendment to the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, which allocated funds to recreational fishing education (Taylor and Dann, 1998).
Fisheries resource issues are particularly prevalent in the Great Lakes region, which has the world’s largest system of fresh water and more than 100,000 square miles of navigable water. The state that is perhaps most affected by such a resource is Michigan, which is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes. Added to the environmental resource issues are economic ones. Once a domain for manufacturing employment, the Great Lakes Basin has seen a loss of industrial jobs to global competitors. To compensate for the loss in manufacturing employment, there has been a sharp increase in service-sector employment since 1970 (Allardice and Thorp,1995). The prevalence of water resources influenced the resulting promotion of recreational tourism. In 1991, it was estimated that two billion dollars per year is spent within the Great Lakes states by recreational boaters (Allardice and Thorp,1995). Add to this figure the 1.33 billion dollars spent by anglers and the 869 million dollars spent on trip-related expenditures (Allardice and Thorp, 1995). Recreational tourism has become one of the strongholds for economic growth within the Great Lakes region. In Michigan, maintaining a strong recreational enterprise implies strong fisheries. Effectively sustaining fisheries resources and encouraging recreational fishing, therefore, will aid economic growth in the region.
Many fisheries education programs and materials exist and are particularly numerous at the collegiate level (Brown, 1995). Zint and Crook (1998) have reviewed over 50 materials for kindergarten through twelfth grade and report disparate coverage of grade level and topic. For example, fisheries education materials abound for grades four through eight, but are less prolific for kindergarten through third grade and ninth through twelfth grade. Topics on the advantages and limitations of fish stocking require further attention. Partnerships between fisheries professionals and educators are valuable, but lacking, in current fisheries education programs (Zint and Crook, 1998).
Operation Fish will work closely with Project FISH, a mentor-based community supported resource education program. Project FISH was started in 1999 as a partnership between Michigan 4-H Youth Program, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division and Office of Information and Education, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Great Lake tribal communities, and recreation departments, service organizations, sport fishing industries and retailers, and other volunteers. The program uses community connections to encourage youth fishing. In its pilot year, Project FISH worked with Grand Rapids Public Schools, West Ottawa Public Schools, and the Northwest Lower Counties of Traverse City Public Schools to encourage fishery education. Operation Fish will use the Project FISH teacher training programs, but will supplement activities and information explicit to the Ann Arbor community.
Operation Fish will address the above three shortcomings of current fisheries education and the lack of any fisheries education in the Ann Arbor Public School through a partnership between the MDNR, Ann Arbor Public Schools, and SNRE. Third-grade science classes from Ann Arbor public schools will have the opportunity to discover the world of fisheries management through aquatic ecology, a trip to a local fish hatchery, and hands-on experience fishing. First, participating teachers will attend a series of workshops facilitated by Project FISH, which will provide them with aquatic ecology information, angling skills, and enthusiasm for recreational fishing (Project FISH, 2000). An environmental education student from SNRE will come to one session of each participating class to prepare the students for a trip to a local hatchery. The EE student will provide background information on aquatic ecology, recreational fishing in Michigan, and the economics of fisheries resources through interactive activities. The third-grade students will tour Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery and attend a presentation by a hatchery expert. At the hatchery, they will also learn about the advantages and disadvantages of fish stocking. A week later, the students will visit a local lake and learn how to fish. Qualified volunteers, from the MDNR Fisheries Division, will offer instruction, and fishing gear will be provided along with opportunities for students to go fishing in the future.
At the end of this project, the students will have gained knowledge of aquatic ecology, fish stocking and rearing, and recreational fishing skills through hands-on education. By fostering enjoyment of the outdoors and ethical fishing practices, this project will give students a positive attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems.
Goal 1: Students will acquire a positive attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems.
Objective 1: On a standardized post-test, the scores on questions relating to attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems will increase by 90% over the pre-test.
Goal 2: Students will learn about fish stocking, angling and aquatic ecology.
Objective 2: At the end of the program, students will create a storybook describing the pros and cons of fish stocking and angling and the role each plays in aquatic ecology.
Goal 3: A partnership will form between Ann Arbor Public Schools, MDNR, Project FISH, and SNRE.
Objective 3: The partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools, MDNR, Project FISH, and SNRE will be measured through the sustainability of the program.
Teachers involved in Operation Fish and the facilitators will attend a series of three luncheons and five workshops prior to the fieldtrips. All third grade teachers in Ann Arbor public schools will be encouraged to participate, as Operation Fish eventually will be incorporated into the curriculum. The first year of the program will be a pilot program in which two classes from Northside Elementary School will participate. The teachers from those two classes will be required to participate in the workshops, and all third grade teachers will participate in subsequent years. The teachers will be compensated for time spent at these workshops.
The luncheons, attended by the participating teachers and Operation Fish facilitators, will be a tool for planning and facilitating the program, and each contributing partner will host one luncheon. The first luncheon will be an overview of the program, and a schedule of the upcoming year will be provided. At the second luncheon, the methods of evaluating Operation Fish will be addressed, and the third will provide information of Project FISH and incorporating fisheries education into the classroom.
The series of teacher workshops will be facilitated by Project FISH, a program run by Michigan State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife education program in cooperation with the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, MDNR, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs (Project FISH, 2000). The five three-hour workshops will familiarize the educators and the SNRE volunteers (addressed below) with Operation Fish and Project FISH. Information covered will include aquatic ecology, angling skills, and enthusiasm for recreational fishing. Specific topics of aquatic ecology that will be addressed include food webs, predator-prey interaction, limnology, and ecosystem health. By giving the educators instruction on fishing skills such as knot tying, casting, selecting bait, and removing a fish from a line, they more effectively will be able to aid the students during the field trips. The workshops will convey an enthusiasm for recreational fishing that hopefully will be taken on by the educators. The third grade teachers will therefore be able to expose their students to a positive attitude toward fishing. Through this workshop, fisheries professionals and educators will be able to discuss how best to educate students about Michigan fisheries. During the fifth session, teachers will be given Operation Fish materials prepared by SNRE environmental education students. Included in the packet will be a summary of the information covered at the workshops, an itinerary of the field trips, information on what to expect on the field trips and appropriate attire, student activities and information (addressed below), teacher evaluations, and a pre-test and post-test to give to students that will measure the students’ knowledge and attitudes towards fisheries resources prior to the fieldtrips. Additional information and concerns specific to Operation Fish will be addressed.
The teachers and Operation Fish facilitators will attend a series of three luncheons in order to prepare for the upcoming fieldtrips. After the five workshops and three luncheons, teachers will be able to educate their students on aquatic ecosystems, incorporating what they’ve learned into their classes as they see fit. During one week’s time, a volunteer environmental education student from SNRE will come to one session of each participating class to prepare the students for the fieldtrips. The volunteer will engage the third graders in activities that will prepare them for the fieldtrips. Through the activities, the students will gain knowledge of aquatic ecosystems and fisheries resources.
Due to time restraints and the attention spans of third graders, the students and their teachers will go on two half-day fieldtrips. The fieldtrips will occur, one each week, after the presentation by the environmental education students. Parent volunteers will be requested to help on the fieldtrips. Ann Arbor Public Schools will provide transportation in the form of buses to and from the fieldtrip sites, for which the school district will be compensated. In the first week, the classes will visit the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Kalamazoo, MI. At the hatchery, students will learn about the importance, advantages, and disadvantages of fisheries management and fish stocking in the Great Lakes from expert interpretive personnel at the MDNR. They will tour the hatchery with the interpretive personnel, seeing the facility first-hand, and they will observe large fish in a pond at the hatchery. The second week, the classes will go to Island Lake State Park, where they will learn step-by-step instruction on fishing basics such as knot tying, casting, selecting bait, and how to remove a fish from the line. They will then be encouraged to practice their newly learned skills by catching fish and releasing them back into the lake. The MDNR has agreed to provide qualified personnel for instruction as well as fishing equipment (Dodge, 2000). The fishing experience will provide the students with a positive attitude toward recreational fishing, environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation in general.
At the end of the program, the third graders will design a storybook describing what they learned about aquatic ecology, fish stocking, and angling. They will present their storybooks to the class, and their parents and representatives from the FishAmerica Foundation will be invited to the presentations. A post-test will be given by the participating teacher to the students to measure the students’ attitudes toward fisheries resources. The teachers will fill out evaluations of the program. After collecting copies of the storybooks and the post-tests and evaluations by mail, SNRE environmental education students will compile and report the results of the pre- and post-tests to determine the change in student attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems. At the fourth and final luncheon, the Operation Fish facilitators and participants will meet to review the program. The SNRE environmental education students will present their findings from the pre- and post-tests and teacher evaluations. Plans and tentative scheduling for the upcoming year will be addressed.
In the first year of Operation Fish, environmental education students from SNRE will coordinate all of the activities and make the connections that will form the partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools, MDNR, SNRE, and Project FISH. In subsequent years, the partnership will already be in place. Project FISH will continue to provide the teacher workshops; the MDNR will continue to provide interpretive tours, fishing instruction, and equipment; SNRE environmental education students will continue to teach the classroom sessions; Ann Arbor Public Schools will continue to provide transportation. After the first year, SNRE environmental education students will assess the effectiveness of the pilot program through the pre- and post-tests and teacher evaluations. In five-year increments, Project FISH will perform long-term assessment of this program, which will include appraisal of increasing student knowledge, positive attitudes, and the effect on Michigan’s economy. In this manner, Operation FISH will be sustained and its effectiveness at attaining its goals will be assessed through future years.
Anticipated Results, Products, and Benefits
The benefits of Operation Fish will apply to many, the most important of which are the third graders of Ann Arbor Schools. Others that will experience positive effects are Ann Arbor Public Schools, the MDNR, Project FISH, Michigan’s economy, and University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Third grade students in Ann Arbor Public Schools will gain
exposure to and actively participate in recreational fishing. They will
learn through direct experience about fish stocking, aquatic ecology, and
the economics of fisheries resources as well as gain recreational fishing
skills. Most importantly, the students will have the opportunity to gain a
positive attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems through
enjoyment of the outdoors and ethical fishing practices.
· Third grade students in Ann Arbor Public Schools will gain exposure to and actively participate in recreational fishing. They will learn through direct experience about fish stocking, aquatic ecology, and the economics of fisheries resources as well as gain recreational fishing skills. Most importantly, the students will have the opportunity to gain a positive attitude toward fisheries resources and aquatic ecosystems through enjoyment of the outdoors and ethical fishing practices.
· Ann Arbor Public Schools will benefit through this partnership with the MDNR and SNRE. Access to and tours of Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery are free courtesy of MDNR, which also sponsors free fishing at Island Lake State Park. Experienced instructors from the MDNR and SNRE will provide step-by-step fishing instructions at Island Lake State Park. All the supplies to get started will be provided free of charge by the MDNR. As a result, Ann Arbor schools will be able to provide this unique opportunity to their students, having only to provide transportation to and from the hatchery and Island Lake State Park, the cost of which will be covered. An added benefit is that students will be more excited about learning, increasing the success of the education.
· Increased interest in the MDNR Fisheries Division will result from this program. More families will participate in recreational fishing by inspiration from their children. The net result for MDNR is increased revenue through the sale of fishing licenses and indirectly from the sale of fishing supplies.
· Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery and Island Lake State Park will experience increased use and involvement from the community along with elevated public interest and support.
· Increased angling will also benefit Michigan’s economy.
· Project FISH will see a rise in enrollment due to the involvement of the Ann Arbor School System.
· The proposed partnerships will be an example for future professional partnerships with University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. SNRE will benefit from these partnerships and from increased publicity in the community. Students from SNRE will gain hands-on experience in teaching environmental education.
The success of this project will be measured by direct evaluation of the students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards stocking fish and recreational fishing. A pre-test and post-test will be given to the students to evaluate the effectiveness of this project the first time it is run. In future years, the infrastructure will be in place, and the equipment will continue to be available through the MDNR. Ann Arbor Schools need only provide transportation and enthusiasm in future years.
Allardice, D.R. & Thorp, S. (1995). A Changing Great Lakes Economy: Economic and Environmental Linkages. SOLEC Working Paper presented at State of Lakes Ecosystem Conference. EPA 905-R-95-017. Chicago, IL. U.S Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/solec/94/economic/
American Sportfishing Association. (2000). FishAmerica announces $10 million endowment campaign. www.asafishing.org/newsroom/pressreleases/fafendow.htm (10/30/00).
Bourjaily, P. (1999). Why Johnny won’t fish. Field and Stream, 103(12), 92-93.
Brown, R. D. (1995). Aquaculture education: are our programs relevant? Fisheries, 20(2), 14-16.
Burger, C. V. (2000). 2001: A fisheries odyssey – the journey of science and education continues. Fisheries, 25(9), 4.
Dodge, K. (2000). October 30. Urban Fisheries Biologist, MDNR, Jackson, MI. Personal communication.
Project FISH (2000). What is Project FISH? www.projectfish.org/about.html (10/15/00).
Recht, F. (1994). FISH habitat education program. Fisheries, 19(1), 40.
Sparano, V. T. (1995). Message from Charlie. Outdoor Life, 196(6) 6.
Taylor, W. W. and S. L. Dann. (1998). Youth education in fisheries: investing in our future. Fisheries, 23(7), 26.
Zint, M. & A. Crook. (1998). A needs assessment of fisheries education materials for youth. Fisheries, 23(10), 24-34.
Zint, M. & S. Dann. (1995). Educating youth about fish, fishing, and fisheries management issues. Fisheries, 20(2), 28-30.
We have identified the FishAmerica Foundation as our primary funding source. The American Sportfishing Association’s FishAmerica Foundation has funded over four million dollars to projects by grassroots volunteer organizations. Since 1983, FishAmerica has supported habitat improvement, stream-bank stabilization, aeration systems, reef projects, silt removal, planting trees and vegetation, fish passages, hatchery construction and renovation, stocking and rearing, litter cleanups and prevention, and most importantly hands-on education (American Sportfishing Association, 2000). Our goals—to promote a positive attitude toward fisheries resources and to have students learn about the role of fish stocking in the Great Lakes—match those of the foundation. Furthermore, the motto of the FishAmerica Foundation is “Investing today in sportfishing’s tomorrow” (American Sportfishing Association, 2000). The edification of today’s children is entirely compatible with this motto. Investing time and resources in teaching third graders the importance of fisheries will ensure sportfishing’s tomorrow. Finally, the presence of volunteers in a program appears to be highly regarded by the American Sportfishing Association, and volunteers are a major component of Operation Fish.
January 23, 2000 Luncheon for Operation Fish facilitators and participants. This luncheon will be a planning session for the upcoming years and provide information on Operation Fish. A schedule for the upcoming year will be provided. The University of Michigan School of Natural Resources environmental education (EE) students will host this first luncheon.
February 20, 2001 Luncheon for Operation Fish facilitators and participants. This
luncheon will be a planning session for the upcoming year, and a copy of the standardized tests
will be will provided. The Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division will host
this second luncheon.
March 20, 2001 Luncheon for Operation Fish facilitators and participants. This luncheon will provide information on Project FISH and on how fisheries education may be used within the classroom. Project FISH will host this luncheon.
April 14, 21, 28 2001 Participating teachers will attend a three-hour workshop each day
facilitated by Project FISH. Teachers will learn aquatic ecology, angling, and fishing skills.
May 5, 2001 Operation Fish participating teachers will attend a three-hour workshop facilitated by the EE students. This workshop will provide the teachers with information on Operation Fish, fisheries education, and the upcoming field trips.
May 15, 2001 EE students will visit the participating classrooms. At the classroom, the EE students will give a standardized pre-test to the third graders. The EE students will also provide a background on aquatic ecology, recreational fishing in Michigan, and economics of fisheries resources through interactive activities.
May 22, 2001 Participating students and teachers will attend a program at the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery. The students will be given a tour of the hatchery and participate in a presentation with hatchery experts.
May 29, 2001 Participating students and teachers will attend a fishing expedition to Island Lake State Park to learn to fish. Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division volunteers will provide fishing gear and instruction. The volunteers will also provide the students with information on free fishing opportunities throughout the summer.
June 5, 2001 University of Michigan School of Natural Resources’ volunteers
will be provided with copies of the students’ storybooks and the
original and standardized post-tests and evaluations from the teachers.
14, 2001 A luncheon meeting with the Operation Fish pilot facilitators and
participants to review the program. University of Michigan School of Natural
Resources volunteers will provide the test results. Plans and a tentative
schedule for the upcoming year also will be addressed. This luncheon will be
hosted by the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
August 14, 2001 A luncheon meeting with the Operation Fish pilot facilitators and participants to review the program. University of Michigan School of Natural Resources volunteers will provide the test results. Plans and a tentative schedule for the upcoming year also will be addressed. This luncheon will be hosted by the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Appendix D: Budget
6 to 10 participants and 4 luncheons
$10 per person $400.00
Workshop and Course pack:
Materials and Assembly $300.00
2 teachers and 3 SNRE volunteers
$45 per participant $225.00
Materials and Assembly $300.00
2 buses for 2 days
$250.00 per day per vehicle $1000.00
Luncheon meeting rooms will be donated by the hosting party.
If luncheon expenses go over $10 per person, the hosting party will pay the expense.
SNRE environmental education students will volunteer their time to coordinate Operation Fish, facilitate the in-class activities, and assist students at Island Lake State Park.
The fees will be waived by the MDNR. Two buses at $7.50 per bus. $15.00
Use of fishing poles, line, bobbers, and bait will be provided by the MDNR. Sixty students at $20 per student. $1200.00
State employees will volunteer their time to help students learn to fish at Island Lake State Park. Four employees for four hours at $18 per hour. $288.00
Wages at Workshops:
Ann Arbor Public Schools will contribute the participating teacher’s wages at the workshops. Two teachers and five workshops at $60 per workshop. $600.00
for In-Class Activities:
for In-Class Activities:
Ann Arbor Public Schools will supply the activities for the pre-fieldtrip, in-class activities. Two classes at $25 per class. $50.00