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

By Charlie Nunziata
NANFA Regional Outreach Program Coordinator

The purpose of this column is to provide a vehicle that brings news and information to the members on the developments, achievements, and progress of the Regional Outreach Program. This column is not meant to, nor will it replace, the occasional reports on events, collecting trips, and the like, that are hosted or arranged by our regional representatives. And although those events will certainly be referred to in this page, the full reports will continue to appear as articles in American Currents and on our website.

We hope to impart the degree of dedication and passion our representatives bring to the goal of furthering the goals and mission of NANFA through educational and related activities. Ultimately, we hope that our enthusiasm is catching, and that more members will see the Outreach Program as a hands-on way to contribute to the study and conservation of our native fishes.

Here are a few examples of the various ways the Outreach Program "reaches out":

    Mike Thennet has been one of our most active representatives, introducing NANFA to both institutional and private organizations in Virginia. Recently, Mike arranged for and distributed specially designed educational posters for the Popes Head Creek Nature Area, thereby bringing NANFA to the attention of the area's many visitors.

    In addition to exposing the NANFA message to other organizations, regional representatives also provide detailed information about their regions to visitors and residents for purposes of study, collecting, or research. Recently, Mike fulfilled such a request with detailed collecting site information on five collecting sites together with an impressive list of the 28 species expected to be found there.

    Ray Wolff, our representative for Wisconsin, provided another kind of NANFA promotional service. Ray arranged for NANFA materials to be displayed at a show hosted by the Central Wisconsin Aquarium Society (CWAS), and plans to include CWAS members to join in his annual collecting trip held each July. Ray also hopes to include the members of another club, the Wisconsin Area Killifish Organization (WAKO). Their obvious interest in native killifish naturally meshes nicely with his local collecting activities. In his words, "By directing CWAS . . . and WAKO members to NANFA, and vice a versa, maybe [all] clubs could drum up some new membership."

    In yet another manifestation of the Outreach Program, the members of the Central Florida region had the pleasure of providing information and a selection of Florida native fishes to the University of Florida Collier County Extension Center, just outside Naples, Florida. A water feature consisting of a waterfall and a small pool with a short run to a larger pool was constructed as an educational display on the property. NANFA members provided a detailed list of the freshwater fishes found in the region, selected a number of species suited to the physicality of the water feature, and provided locally caught specimens for introduction. The extension personnel were briefed on the husbandry requirements, and in the spring, a small team will evaluate their progress, survey a large retention pond on the property, and collect in the area to determine the extent of exotic introductions.

    On a much larger project, the Central Florida region has been asked to construct a plan to introduce displays and provide technical services to the Florida Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest and best-run museums of its kind in the nation. With nearly 800,000 visitors each year, NANFA exposure at this institution will bring our message to tens of thousands of people who would never otherwise know of our existence. In addition to displays, the group will conduct a survey of a small natural wetland on the museum property, provide interpretative signage for the nature trail, and help develop a water processing demonstration facility into a native fish wetland display. NANFA membership information will also appear on a Florida native fish CD that will be sold in the gift shop. NANFA presence at this prestigious facility should certainly result in increased awareness of native fishes (a core goal of our organization), and, it is hoped, result in additional members as well.

These are just a few examples that demonstrate what your regional representatives are doing to promote NANFA. More examples will appear here in upcoming issues. The future of the Outreach Program is bright, and getting brighter. Share in the fun! Consider the Outreach Program as an effective way to for you to personally contribute to achieving our most important goal-the conservation of our wonderful native fishes.

© 2005 North American Native Fishes Association