Reaching Out: Notes from NANFA's Regional Outreach Program - Spring 2004

By Charlie Nunziata
NANFA Regional Outreach Program Coordinator

The Outreach Program is always striving to get the NANFA message out. One way is to improve access to NANFA, especially at the local level. To accomplish this we have established the position of NANFA Contact, an adjunct to the regional representative. When requested, the Contact provides information about local native fish, habitats and regulations on NANFA's behalf, and relates a brief summary to the Regional Representative after the service is rendered. The idea here is to provide multiple points through which people can learn about NANFA. We hope our members will see this as a productive way to support the organization without a major commitment of time or resources. Interested? Please contact me.

Several of our regional representatives and members have been very busy promoting NANFA.

  • Ryan DePauw (IL-IN) arranged a chapter meeting on March 28th featuring a talk about the reptiles and amphibians at the Field Museum in Chicago.

  • Peter Unmack (AZ-NV) regularly arranges trips to Nevada in conjunction with the Desert Springs Action Committee, during which exotics are cleared from native waters and scientific data is taken. A trip to Lake Mead in March assisted a razorback sucker study, and a trip to Ash Meadows over Columbus Day weekend is planned. Peter continues to facilitate this important work and to draw strong NANFA support. Up for a desert adventure? Contact Peter for details.

  • Todd Crail (OH) provided, with some financial help from NANFA, a 150-gallon native fish aquarium at Maumee Valley Country Day School. Todd reports that the display is a major point of interest. Who knows what young mind may be illuminated to the wonderful world of our native fishes as a result of these efforts. Talk about sowing seeds for the future! Thanks, Todd, for an outreach effort that will keep on contributing for years to come.

  • Rob Denkhaus (TX) is at it again, providing assistance in organizing the "Trinity River Ecology Weekend," hosted by the University of North Texas (UNT) and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The event was highly successful with participants spending a Saturday at the UNT campus with their aquatic education staff, and Sunday at the nature center where Rob works to camp out and participate in a variety of programs, including aquatic invertebrate sampling, re-vegetating shorelines, canoeing various lotic habitats, and attending a seining demonstration conducted by NANFA member John Bongiovanni. Many people commented on how John's efforts provided a unique learning experience about our aquatic wonders. Thanks to both for their continuing efforts in promoting NANFA and our aquatic heritage.

  • Joy Hancock (FL), a naturalist with the Collier County Extension Center, reports on the success of an activity with Central Florida regional members in establishing a local native fish community in a pond on the Center's property. The fish, supplied by the region's members, wintered over nicely, and many fry were observed among the plants this spring. The next step is to interpret the pond ecology for visitors.

  • Ray Wolff (WI) represented NANFA at the Central Wisconsin Aquarium Society show, and is organizing an annual joint collecting trip in July. Ray is also involved with the Wisconsin Area Killifish Organization, and is attempting to bring that club into his plans as well. This cross-pollination raises awareness of native fishes, leverages membership recruitment, and exemplifies the potential power in associating NANFA efforts with other local organizations.

  • Dustin Smith and Chip Rinehart (SC) put up a display at the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic at the end of March. NANFA paid the registration fee, but Dustin and Chip did all the work. The display included NANFA promotional materials, 38- and 50-gallon native tanks, and photos of SC native fishes. In addition to participant interest, contacts were established with other exhibitors, including U.S. Fish & Wildlife personnel who invited them to do some stream surveys in the Carolina Sandhills Wildlife Refuge. A nice reward for a job well done.

  • Leo Long and Bob Muller (MI) had a busy winter. As a result of a series of talks Bob gave to local organizations, NANFA members were invited to join with the Clinton River Watershed Council's macro-invertebrate surveys. That led to requests for a NANFA display at Outdoor-O-Rama (a 5-day fishing and hunting show), the Ann Arbor Aquarium club, the "Nature Night" program of the Royal Oak Nature Society, a local school, and the City of Farmington Hills Homeowner's Environmental Workshop. Said Bob, "I never would have believed we would be asked this many times to spread the word on native fishes." This is the Outreach Program in its finest form.

Congratulations and thanks to all our representatives. Their outreach efforts are reaching hundreds of new people, and who knows where that will lead.
© 2005 North American Native Fishes Association