Youth Aquatic Resource Education (YARE) May, 2015

On May 2 & 3, over 20 teachers, educators and students gathered at the Cornell 

Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake in Central NY for a joint workshop on 

Youth Aquatic Resource Education (YARE).  The workshop featured hands-on 

instruction and training for teaching youth about water quality monitoring, 

aquatic ecology and fishing.  These educational topics are fostered within the 

shared missions of the workshop's sponsoring organizations - the Izaak Walton 

League of America (IWLA), Project Watershed and the NY Chapter of the American 

Fisheries Society (NY AFS).  

On Day 1, IWLA Clean Waters Fellow Erin Johnson led a fun filled day of Creek 

Freaks training that included an interactive introduction to the many classroom 

lessons the program offers and in-field experiences at nearby Chittenango Creek 

for water chemistry, physical habitat measurements and aquatic macroinvertebrate 

sampling.  Workshop participants were not disappointed, as they discovered all 

sorts of interesting organisms, including mayflies, stoneflies, water penny 

beetles, invasive rusty crayfish and newly developing walleye eggs with live 

embryos inside!  The day concluded with an old fashioned, battered fish fry 

provided by the CNY Chapter of IWLA. 

On Day 2, the YARE activities were led by the workshop's organizing committee 

which included CNY Chapter of IWLA member Tom Hughes, along with Erik Hazelton, 

Ian Kenney, Ellen George and Tom Daniel, who are all student members of the NY 

Chapter AFS from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Cornell 

University.  Similar to the first day, instruction included a morning classroom 

training on why and how to implement youth aquatic resource education programs 

followed by an in-field training that included fish ecology & identification, an 

introduction to the basics of sport fishing, and hands-on opportunities to learn 

the professional techniques for fish sampling, including trap netting, beach 

seining and backpack electrofishing.  Again, workshop participants were super 

excited, as they enjoyed the unique opportunity to see and touch so many of the 

fascinating fishes that swim in CNY's waters, including smallmouth & largemouth 

bass, pickerel, walleye, white perch, crappie, freshwater drum, bowfin, burbot 

and many more! 

The research and instructional staff at Cornell Biological Field Station (CBFS) 

deserve high praise, as they were terrific hosts for this workshop.  CBFS staff 

went above and beyond by working throughout the week before the workshop 

collecting a tremendous diversity of fish species and holding them happy and 

healthy in an enormous aquarium for the workshop participants to experience.  In 

addition, CBFS Research Support Specialist Tom Brooking set up an informative 

display that featured Sturgeon For Tomorrow, a non-profit organizational effort 

to promote the continued protection, conservation and recovery of lake sturgeon 

in Oneida Lake and throughout New York State. 

All in all, these were great days out on the water!