The Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s Aquatic Education Program recently honored three individuals for their efforts in helping Iowa’s youth become skilled anglers and advocates of fishing and natural resources conservation.
Mat Daniels, social studies and science teacher at Kanesville Alternative Learning Center, Laura DeCook, naturalist with Mahaska County Conservation Board, and Greg Wolf, naturalist with the Davenport Parks and Recreation, were recognized during the June 12 Natural Resource Commission meeting for establishing outstanding Fish Iowa! programs.
Daniels, who has been involved with Fish Iowa! for four years, received the 2014 Brass Bluegill Award. He works with 150 students each year and uses the Fish Iowa! curriculum with at-risk students in the Passages Program. Daniels applied for and was granted Fish Iowa! as a curricular choice at his school. It is a nine-week course and upon completion, students get an elective “Fish Iowa!” credit on their transcript.
“I believe that fishing is something students can take with them forever,” Daniels said.
DeCook and Wolf were recipients of Brass Bluegill Meritorious award.
DeCook has been involved with Fish Iowa! for 18 years. She has coordinated fishing and aquatic programs for school field trips, public fishing events and youth day camps. She also instructs in-class programs relating to aquatics and fishing. Always an advocate of the Fish Iowa! curriculum, DeCook trains and mentors teachers and naturalists wishing to become involved in Fish Iowa!.
Wolf, a 12-year veteran of Fish Iowa!, started the “Family Learn-How-To-Fish Day” in Davenport that encourages families to discover the excitement of fishing in an urban city. The event is held at Vander Veer Botanical Park Lagoon. Several stations are set up for families to learn different aspects of fishing including: fly tying, casting, water safety and pole maintenance, among others. Families are also allowed to fish in the lagoon.
All three recipients began fishing at a young age with family members. Their early exposure to the outdoors stirred a lifelong passion that all three have chosen to share with Iowa’s youth. While all three awardees have different programs, they share a commonality of passion for the sport of fishing, and a true desire to see today’s youth given a chance to carry on the tradition. Their programs ensure that children will have the chance and opportunity to explore nature, develop a love of the outdoors and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Fish Iowa! strives to create safe anglers and responsible stewards of Iowa’s aquatic resources. Fish Iowa! is supported by Sportfish Restoration Funds, which are obtained from excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and related items and fishing license dollars.
For more information contact Barb Gigar, Education and Outreach, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-747-2200.