Reaching Out: Notes from NANFA's Regional Outreach Program - Spring 2005

By Charlie Nunziata
NANFA Regional Outreach Program Coordinator

As I write this, most parts of the country, aside from those in areas where there is almost no "down season," are just now emerging from the winter doldrums. With this annual reawakening comes plans for NANFA-related activities among our coordinators. We look forward to a robust year of activity and an effective broadcast of NANFA's message. If you have been considering participation in the Outreach Program, now is the time to come forward. There are a number of opportunities at every level for you to contribute in ways large and small to our effort. Remember, the ultimate goal of the Outreach Program is to educate with respect to both the conservation of our natural aquatic environment, and the role that NANFA plays in that process. It is the contribution of the individual member that makes any efforts of this nature work.

We recognize that some members do not prefer a commitment to the structure of the Outreach Program. Nonetheless, there are actions each of us can take that will provide big benefits. A few examples: A copy of American Currents at a local library, nature center or other public facility is an excellent way to introduce the native fish world and the NANFA organization. can help you obtain the copies to support such a program. If public speaking is of interest, slide shows featuring native fishes and habitat information find a ready audience at the local aquarium club, as well as 4H and other nature-oriented organizations. These groups are always looking for interesting speakers. Contact us for help in obtaining the necessary materials. If it's legal in your region, provide a pair or two of aquarium-friendly native fishes to the local aquarium club auction. Be sure to include a NANFA membership form along with the fish. Of course, none of these actions will independently have a significant impact, but taken together, the impact can be surprising.

and the members of the Desert Fishes Council, are busily planning another weekend in the deserts of Nevada to clear exotics from some of our most important and fragile ecosystems. Usually occurring in May, this notice may not reach you in time to participate in the outing this spring. However, the annual October trip to Ash Meadows is also being planned, and will give you plenty of time to plan your participation in this most important activity. Please contact Peter directly for additional information.

The Hillsboro County, Florida Cooperative Extension, a University of Florida and Hillsboro County natural history-oriented complex, serves the greater Tampa area. This excellent facility is a central resource combining a natural history museum and educational demonstrations primarily aimed at primary and secondary students. The Cooperative installed a pond in their newly constructed commons area, and asked NANFA's Central Florida Region for ideas on how to populate it. A collecting trip in the immediate area ensued, resulting in a nice selection of local natives that now reside in the pond. The Cooperative also asked the group to supply a display that explains the pond, its inhabitants, and the importance of conservation and habitat protection. This display will be prominently housed in the lobby and will include NANFA promotional materials and membership forms. We are also discussing providing quarterly talks on native fishes and habitat conservation to student groups as part of the center's permanent educational series.

Lastly, our NANFA promotional display once again occupied a prominent position in the aquatic arts area located in the Family Center Building at the Florida State Fair. There was a lot of traffic past the display this year, and about 300 membership forms were taken. Who knows, maybe some new members will join as a result.

Although we look forward to reporting on a full slate of coordinator activities in the next installment, activity reports from members outside the Outreach Program are welcomed as well. Send your contributions to me by the 15th of each ending quarter month: March, June, September and December.

© 2005 North American Native Fishes Association