The Gerald C. Corcoran Education Grant

Up to $2000 for Environmental Education Projects are Awarded Every Year

Grant Available for Projects to Educate the Public about Native Fishes

The North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) is again offering up to $2000 to sponsor a project or projects to educate the general public about native North American fishes and their environment. The Gerald C. Corcoran Education Grant will fund such educational projects as:

  • Producing and distributing educational materials
    (books, brochures, posters, displays, video, Internet resources, etc.)

  • Stream surveys with public education as a primary goal

  • Public lectures

  • Nature center displays

  • School materials and displays

  • Teacher training workshops

© Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

The award was established in memory of past NANFA President Gerald C. Corcoran, who stressed public education regarding the continent's native fishes. NANFA is an organization made up of home and professional aquarists, university and other professional researchers, conservationists, anglers and naturalists. As its name implies, the group is dedicated to the study and conservation of North America's native fishes.

Grant proposals are due March 31st. Proposals will be evaluated and ranked by a review committee, and funding awarded on June 30th. Qualifying applicants must be members of NANFA but non-members may submit their annual dues with their proposals. For additional information, contact:

Scott Schlueter
(please send email for postal address)

Past NANFA Education Grant Recipients

Puget Soundkeeper was awarded the Corcoran Grant for “Investigating Coho Pre-Spawn Mortality on Longfellow Creek, WA”. The project objectives for the project as follows: 1) Conduct scientifically valid pre-spawn mortality surveys, 2) Educate residents about local salmon runs, and 3) Educate residents about stormwater threats to Puget Sound. NANFA funds will be used to recruit, train, and equip volunteer surveyors as well as develop educational materials. This proposal will engage and educate the public, highlighting anthropogenic mortality of salmon. Download a PDF of their project proposal here.

Georgia Highlands College was awarded the Corcoran Grant for “The Georgia Highlands Wetland Experience”. The project objectives include introducing underprivileged children (800-1000 students/year) to native fish and their habitats. Students will experience how scientific data is collected, learn to identify how habitats can affect diversity, and gain firsthand experience how their actions can affect a whole ecosystem. Download a PDF of their project proposal here.

Cherokee National Forest was awarded the Corcoran Grant for “Freshwater Snorkel Programs as an Aquatic Environmental Education Tool”. In support of their ongoing snorkeling program, the Cherokee National Forest is requesting funds to provide Red Cross Lifeguard training (certification) to their snorkel program guides and lifeguards. The proposal highlights water safety as paramount and the fact that some groups, such as the Girl Scouts, are not allowed to participate in aquatic events without a certified lifeguard present. With their staff and volunteers Red Cross certified, it will not only allow more groups an opportunity to experience snorkeling and view native fish but will enhance overall safety of their successful program. [Note- The Forest Service was unable to implement the program due to staff changes. With their apologies, the grant was returned. The NANFA BOD will consider funding two grant proposals in 2016.]

Brukner Nature Center (Troy, Ohio) was awarded the Corcoran Grant for "Snorkeling the Stillwater River Project." The project objective is to develop and administer an educational snorkeling program. In 2014, they will develop lesson plans, run 2 snorkeling pilot programs, and plan to incorporate the snorkeling program in the standard educational programming. The award will assist with acquisition of equipment to facilitate the snorkeling program (12 mask/snorkel sets, field nets, and two small fish tanks for streamside specimen viewing).

Keep North Fulton Beautiful, Inc., will receive $1000 for their project, "Protecting the Native Fishes of Johns Creek, Georgia," which will document the fish, wildlife, vegetation, and water chemistry of Johns Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River, and the creek after which the City of Johns Creek, Georgia, was named. Download a PDF of their project proposal here.

New York Sturgeon For Tomorrow will be adding a life-size, 6 foot replica stugeon mount for use in educational displays. (More detail to. come in a future American Currents)

A second award was given this year due to the unique nature of the proposal to the Avon Grove Charter School in West Grove, PA for the establishment of the Corcoran Freshwater Aquatics Lab. (More details to come in a future American Currents).

There were no applicants for 2011.

The Mississippi River Field Institute (National Audubon Society) was awarded the 2010 Corcoran Grant for "A Checklist Of Fishes Of The Lower Mississippi River". This illustrated field checklist would list fishes found in both the main channel and the diverse backwater habitats. The checklist would serve as a convenient field guide for future naturalist course participants. Unfortunately, shortly after the grant was awarded, the Mississippi River Field Institute was disbanded and the checklist was never completed.

James Moore of Henry County Stormwater Management Department, GA was awarded $834.60 for purchasing a Native Stream biotype educational display. This display will be used by Henry County Stormwater Management to educate the residents about non-point source water pollution and its effects on local stream ecology. The display will be maintained by James Moore. Additionally, this display will be setup at different sites in the area and NANFA brochures will be made available to the public near the display. UNFORTUNATELY, PROPOPSED PROJECT DID NOT COME TO FRUITION AND A FINAL REPORT WAS NOT SUBMITTED.

With the generous support of Maureen Corcoran, NANFA doubled its $1000 commitment to its Gerald C. Corcoran Education Grant program in 2008. Two proposals vied for the top spot. But instead of letting one deserving proposal go unfunded, Ms. Corcoran, daughter of the late Gerald C. Corcoran, the former NANFA president and environmental educator for whom the grant is named, donated $1000 so that both proposals could get the support they needed.

The first place-winning proposal is the "San Felipe Creek Project," submitted by Cassidy Mickelson of the Del Rio Council for the Arts in Del Rio, TX. This project, aimed at students K-12, focuses on the ecological interactions between the federally threatened Devils River Minnow (Dionda diaboli) and the exotic Suckermouth Catfish (Hypostomus cf. plecostomus) in the San Felipe Creek in Del Rio, TX. The project begins with field trips to the creek, during which Suckermouth Catfish will be harvested from the creek while students watch from the bank, learning about the invasive fish's negative impact on the ecosystem. Students will also help take water quality measurements. Over the next week students will put together displays about the creek to be shown at the San Felipe Creek Festival, then throughout the school year, traveling from school to school. Total grant award is $920.

The second place-winning propsal is "Wetlands as a Classroom," submitted by Debbie Piscitelli of the Harpers Ferry Historical Association in Harpers Ferry, VA. This project is aimed at educating middle school students on the importance of wetlands to the health of the local, regional and global ecosystems. The project will take place on Harpers Ferry National Historical Park land, at a newly restored nine-acre patch of wetlands located at Nash Farms. Curriculum content will be composed of five lesson plans, each centered on hands-on and "feet-wet" activities: collect samples from the wetlands and identifying the living creatures found; collecting water samples and performing tests to determine water quality; explore the soils of the wetland to learn about the importance of soil and the process of decomposition; constructing "mini-boats" using wetland material in order to demonstrate the significance of wetlands to humanity; and learning about the native fishes in the region and the habitat characteristics these fish need to survive. Total grant award is $1000.

Andy Starostka of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Columbia, MO) will receive $1,500 for the development and production of a set of "Fish of the Big Muddy" playing cards. The face of the cards will show the suit and rank (ace of spades, two of hearts, etc.) along with artwork of a Missouri River fish, its common and Latin names, conservation status, and a short descriptive text. Fifty-four species will be featured (the standard French deck plus two jokers). The cards will be distributed to schools, nature centers and other educational outreach venues. You may purchase the playing cards here.

Aldemaro Romero (Arkansas State University) and Ginny Adams (University of Central Arkansas) were awarded $938.65 for the creation of a Web site devoted to North America's little-known cave fishes. Download a Word file of their proposal here. UNFORTUNATELY, RECIPIENTS DID NOT DELIVER ON THEIR PROPOSED WEBSITE AND THE GRANT MONIES WERE NOT RETURNED.

NANFA awarded two Corcoran Education Grants this year.

  • Jeff Grabarkiewicz of Mauhmee, OH, was awarded $1000 to help fund The Traveling Native Fish Showcase. Here is a PDF of Jeff's proposal. While the project was completed, a final report was not submitted.
  • Christopher Gutmann, a Naturalist at the Fullersburg Woods Nature Center in Oak Brook, IL, was awarded $981 for his Kids in the Creek program.
    PDF of Christopher's proposal.

John Brill of Livingston, NJ, was awarded the 2004 Corcoran Education Grant for a photographic exhibition, Freshwater Fishes of the Northeastern United States (with Special Reference to Species of the Passaic River Drainage and Great Swamps Wetlands). A PDF copy of his report for American Currents is available here.

The Clinton Community Nature Center in Clinton, Mississippi, was the 2003 recipient for their Get to Know Native Fishes program. A PDF copy of their report for American Currents is available here.

The 2002 recipient was the Selman Living Laboratory (SLL), located in northwestern Oklahoma.

There were two 2001 recipients, thanks to generous donations from the Corcoran family:

The first recipient of the NANFA education grant was NANFA Ohio Representative Rob Carillio. Carillio has been active for several years in a local coalition to defend and celebrate the Mahoning River in Warren, OH. Carillio received the award for developing a large, all-weather sign which he posted along the river to describe the fishes of the Mahoning as well as the value of development-free zone to conserve river habitat.

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