Sponsors Meet To Discuss/Improve Program

Each year CDFW hosts a meeting of all the sponsors of programs that hatch fish in classrooms around the San Francisco Bay Area. The purpose of the meeting is to share ideas, information, and resources so we can all better support teachers. Here is an overview of the meeting held on May 17th, 2014.

Last year, we came up with these ideas to improve our service to teachers:

  • Have teachers sit at same table with their sponsor during training, so they get to know their supporters and know who to call if/when the going gets tough.
  • Simplify the tank set-up part of training and do it earlier on in the day, as setting up the tank is one of the main anxieties teachers experience. Get it over with so they can relax.
  • Recruit more club members to do classroom visits by increasing their comfort level. Use Ed’s DVD to show club members how rewarding it is. Make a video of interviews with current members to show how much they enjoy the adulation of students and teachers. Point out that if we want to keep fishing in clean, healthy streams, we need to take the time to recruit today’s students as next generation’s environmental stewards. If we don’t, who will?

This year’s suggestions and perspectives regarding recruiting new members to help with tank set-up, egg delivery, and/or classroom programs:

  • Sponsors benefit from doing classroom visits as they can communicate their love of fishing and being outdoors. Club members can field more questions than can teachers. We know about flies and can show ones we’ve made to teach about trout diet. We provide a new voice in the classroom, which draws a lot more attention than listening to the teacher.
  • Sponsors should have a wide choice of activities to do in the classroom, such as art projects (trout hats and dioramas, educational games (Return to the Redd and Race to the Redd), “Wild About Trout” CD, or physical education ecology games (Hooks and Ladders, Defend the Redd and Oh Trout!)
  • Current members who do classroom programs can invite other club members to shadow them to see how appreciated they would be if they did similar classroom visits.

Egg delivery issues:

  • Clubs need to know approximate egg delivery date months in advance to avoid conflicts with vacation schedules.
  • FFF can help bag eggs on morning of delivery to compensate for understaffing of CDFW.
  • CDFW needs help processing 772 permits now that Talia has moved on. Clubs may want to use new techniques like gathering all the permits when delivering eggs and turning them all in together by school.

Hatchery scheduling issues:

  • Hatcheries need to know our TIC schedule so they can attempt to work with it. We need to let them know our desired date of hatching so classrooms receive eggs at least a week beforehand.
  • Teachers need information from the hatchery about the TU and expected time of hatching at the time of delivery.

Tank temperature control issues:

  • Is the problem with chillers or with inadequate insulation? More clubs are going to 2” of insulation, using Reflectix aluminized sheeting from Home Depot in addition to Styrofoam. Another option is Victory Foam, a black neoprene that sticks to the tank, but makes the trout habitat inside look ugly.

Grant issues:

  • It is extremely important to submit the hours you and teachers put into the program, as that determines the matching funds we get to administer the TIC program.
  • The grants determine the tasks we need to accomplish, and the hours are proof that we put in the time to do it.

Program and release day suggestions:

  • Refer teachers to our new Teacher’s Manual. It reviews everything from tank set-up to posters to release day activities, and more. Ed Huff has done amazing graphics to make this an attractive document.
  • Teachers should invite school administrators to the release, as this helps recruit support for the program and can encourage other teachers at the same school to participate.   Also invite CDFW, local press, school district board members, and councilpersons, so the class’s achievements are fully appreciated.

Brainstorming how to improve the program:

  • We need to learn how to talk to kids at different grade levels, how to present information in ways that involves and interests them.
  • We need Universal Early Retirement in the US so we have more people available to help in classrooms. We could, in fact, recruit retired teachers to help clubs with classroom presentations. We may be able to team up with others as well, including service clubs, the NRA, churches, and others that have environmental or outdoor goals that overlap with our own.
  • We could recruit members of the CDFW Natural Resource Volunteer Program to help in the classroom, especially in Napa and other northern areas.
  • We need to ask club members directly, face-to-face, if they will participate, as asking for a show of hands at a club meeting doesn’t usually get results.
  • Encourage more club members to attend our fall teacher workshops so they see the enthusiasm and develop the desire to help.
  • Offer training workshops for members who want to become TIC coaches. We can only meet the new teacher needs every year if we think “we” instead of just “me.” Make it easy to get involved by recruiting members in baby steps. For example, a member could accompany you to schools on egg delivery day to deliver eggs to other TIC classrooms.
  • Ask students to create a “what I’ve learned by hatching trout and getting to know flyfishers’ video to share with club members.
  • Post your successes in places club members will see them, such as your newsletter, your website, or your favorite trout’s Facebook page.

Other enjoyable activities at our meeting:

Lunch was awesome. Ethan’s snacks (pistachios, coffee cake, drinks, chips) were great as usual. Flasher apologized for failing to bring coffee, and promised it at all future events.

Ken Brunskil talked about the role of FFF and his outreach efforts to the clubs.

Jim Scherer showed his spreadsheet that helps interested teachers control the time of hatching and buttoning up, based on TU calculations. Another helpful date of hatch worksheet is included on page 9 of the new Teacher’s Manual.

Ed Huff showed the CD he uses to help recruit club members to help in the TIC program. He will share copies with all interested clubs. The video on our website is also a good tool to use to give club members an idea of what the teacher and club members do in the classroom and at the release site.

CDFW recognized Redwood Empire Trout Unlimited for their pioneering work in developing a program that hatches fish in the classroom.

Eric ­­­­Larson of CDFW talked about the potential impacts of the drought on fisheries and fish habitat this year. His PowerPoint showed the dramatic changes in rainfall and anadromous fish success from year to year.

Bob Flasher played “Supermarket” with attendees and discovered that he needed to give much clearer instructions the next time. The game showed how we achieve at least twice as much working together as we do alone. This was a subtle hint that we benefit from sharing at these meetings and when more club members lend a hand in the TIC program.

Hope to see you all next year. Happy fishing until then.

About Ethan Rotman

Ethan Rotman (Bayareatic) manages and coordinates programs that hatch fish in classrooms for the San Francisco Bay Area. He also chairs the committee that manages these programs throughout the state. Ethan has worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for over 20 years.
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