NANFA-- First Boy Scouts and Native Fishes

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Fri, 15 Dec 2000 10:56:18 -0600

Was browsing through a reprint of the original 1911 "Handbook for Boys" and
was surprised to see two sections on native fishes.

A section on types of fishes by Hugh M. Smith, U.S. Fisheries Commission,

"There is no more fascinating and profitable study than the fish life of the
lakes, ponds, rivers, brooks, bays, estuaries, and coasts of the United
States; and no more important service can be rendered our American boys than
to teach them to become familiar with our native food and game fishes, to
realize their needs, and by example and precept to endeavor to secure for
the fishes fair consideration and treatment."

Dr. Smith discusses freshwater, migratory, and marine fishes, and then urges
field studies of fishes. A dozen species are depicted including the
obligatory salmonids, yellow perch, largemouth bass, but also spottail
shiner (Notropis hudsonius), banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus), and
white sucker (Catostomus commersoni).

The following section by William Leland Stowell starts:

"Every boy should have an aquarium. The aquarium will give ten times as
much pleasure as annoyance and the longer time you have one undisturbed the
greater will be its revelations."

Dr. Stowell emphasizes home-made, "balanced" aquaria with native plants and
fishes. He urges scouts to collect "killies, sunfish, cat-fish...shiners,
blacknosed dace, minnows - the mud minnow that seems to stand on its tail -
darters, etc.."

In retrospect, coverage of native fishes was not so surprising. That year,
one of the Vice-Presidents of the Boy Scouts of America was David Starr

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