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Faith Bruck with Logan-Magnolia High School is the 2018 recipient of the Brass Bluegill award from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fish Iowa! program.
In 2015, Logan-Magnolia Schools’ science teacher K.C. Kersten got a grant through Monsanto to develop a fishing pond and wetland area next to the school. The pond was stocked in the fall of 2016. In 2017, Bruck capitalized on the outdoor interests of her students and the newly stocked pond to create excitement about lifetime recreational activities through fishing. She also drew on student knowledge and expertise, having more experienced students help those who were just learning how to fish. About 85 students spent several weeks fishing and caught and released bluegill, bass, catfish and walleye during their Fish Iowa! unit. Pictures of students with their catches were posted on the school website.
Bruck’s classes sparked a strong interest in fishing. Students continued to fish on weekends and they asked to do more fishing activities. Her unit also made many cross-curricular connections with the junior and senior high science classes, helping students become more aware of their environment and more conservation-minded.
Bruck and her colleagues currently are exploring ways to expand the fishing unit and take advantage of the on-site pond to incorporate other opportunities to get students active outside and enjoying Iowa’s natural resources.
Bruck was honored at the September 13 Natural Resources Commission meeting. She received a plaque and a set of 16 spinning rods and reels for use with her classes.
Other educators recognized for their outstanding contributions to Fish Iowa! in 2018, include Spencer Bauer, Greene County Middle School; Megan Cook, Sac County Conservation Board; Larry Kadner, Marshalltown High School; Mike Richard, Ridge View Schools; Greg Villegas, East Sac High School; and Kate Zimmerman, Ringgold County Conservation Board.
Each program includes education, support and opportunities to get Iowans outdoors and connected to our natural resources through fishing. Bauer leads a fishing club for about 100 middle school students that includes 30-minute weekly sessions with fall and spring outings after school. Cook incorporates fishing into public events, school programs, and summer camps for about 300 participants. Kadner teaches design to 140 students by building lures and hosts an after-school fishing club with 27 members. Richard is a hands-on school administrator who not only advocates for, but helps lead, fishing outings at the elementary and high school. Villegas’ P.E. fishing unit for some 150 students is well-supported by the community and connects with ecology and agriculture classes. Zimmerman uses fishing extensively in her conservation education programs for some 3,000 participants each year. She sums up the philosophy and many of these educators, “[Fishing] provides a skill set, mental and physical wellness, and passion for the outdoors that will teach … respect [for our natural resources].”
The Brass Bluegill award has been presented each year since 1996 to an outstanding local program that exemplifies the goals of the Fish Iowa! Angler Education program.