NANFA-- Whom do you teach? -- was RE: NANFA-Need for Education

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Thu, 7 Jun 2001 13:17:09 -0500

Personally, I commend you for your own efforts towards
> education. Where, what and whom do you teach?
> --
> Jay DeLong

I look forward to Brian Bastarache's response to Jay's question and I think
that it provides another opportunity for each of us to learn something about
our fellow members. Since the recent thread regarding how people got
started in the native fish hobby/profession seemed so popular, I suggest
that we take this opportunity to tell what we are doing to spread the word.
Who among us has "gotten off your ass and DID something" (to paraphrase
Luke)? Tell us! I'll even start it off...

I am lucky that I actually get paid to educate the public regarding all
facets of natural history so I realize that I have more opportunities than
most folks. The following items are a few things that I am currently
involved in which I feel fall under the heading of educating the public:

As a NANFA member:

* I recently took on the position as Texas Regional Rep. and although I
must admit that I haven't put together any activities as yet (Sorry George
but like it or not, time is in short supply everywhere.) I do plan (not
promise) to help educate existing members as well as recruit new members
within the state.

* I volunteered to help Chris S. with the task of proofreading the American
Currents publication prior to printing. I have also volunteered to author
items that he, as editor, requests. I think that everyone agrees this is a
topnotch publication and contains educational information for all levels of
interest and ability within the hobby.

As Nature Center Supervisor for the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge:

* Each year, my staff and I, host thousands of school age children for field
trips where they get to explore the natural habitats of north central Texas
including the waters, with its associated fauna, of the West Fork of the
Trinity River.

* Just yesterday, I was lead instructor for one of our Summer Natural
History Adventures (a series of 8 hour workshops for grades K-8) which was
called "Small Fry". This program targeted 3-4 graders and was designed to
introduce inner city youth to the recreational activity of fishing. In
addition to teaching knot tying, casting, etc., I provided a heavy dose of
aquatic ecology and environmental stewardship.

* In 1997, I introduced Camp Paddle & Cast, a program to introduce inner
city, at-risk youth aged 8-16 to the wonders of the natural world. This
overnight program, which is provided gratis to all participants, includes
canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking, and aquatic ecology opportunities for
approximately 300 youth annually. Many of these kids consider their local
vacant lot a wilderness so introducing them to something like an
orange-spotted sunfish that they caught in a dip net is pretty exciting.

* I am currently in the construction phase of a new set of aquatic and
wetland exhibits which will include approximately 500 gallons of native fish
aquaria. The species to be exhibited have not been completely worked out
but the objective of the overall exhibit is to introduce visitors to the
diversity of the aquatic fauna of the region and to the dangers of habitat
loss, pollution, sedimentation, etc. When completed, approximately 150,000
people will view the exhibits annually.

* I am the local coordinator for the Texas Master Naturalist program which
strives to create a pool of trained volunteers who can assist on
environmental and conservation projects throughout the state. The basic
training entails 27 hours of classroom instruction and 24 hours of field
experience. Wetland and aquatic ecology instruction constitute 25% of the
training (prairie, forest, and urban ecology comprise the rest). By
providing this training, we have approximately 230 trained individuals in
the Dallas-Fort Worth area who have volunteered many thousands of hours
providing education to youth, worked on various habitat restoration
projects, gotten involved in various planning endeavors to provide
environmental stewardship viewpoints, etc.

As a private citizen:

* I provide nature hikes which include aquatic ecology aspects at local
parks in Weatherford, TX where I live.

* I consult with the Weatherford, TX Parks and Recreation Department on all
environmental issues affecting public property in the city. This includes 2
city owned lakes and a creek which runs through town, the aptly named Town

* I take every opportunity presented to me while I am out and about,
fishing, hiking, or doing whatever, to talk with people about the value and
importance of our environment and all of its flora and fauna. Whether it is
convincing the guy down stream not to kill the harmless water snakes just
because he thinks its a cottonmouth or explaining to my neighbor why I won't
water my yard all summer in order to maintain a lawn of non-native grasses,
I strive to pass along reasonable, well thought out and legitimate
information at all times.

* I have instilled a knowledge of, and a concern for, the natural world in
my children and feel confident that they will pass it on to theirs when the
time comes (hopefully 20 years or so from now...Grandpa Rob does not sound

Admittedly, what I have done, what I am doing, and what I will do are
nothing more than a drop in the bucket but to borrow from the immortal words
of Arlo Guthrie (with apologies), "You know, if one pers-- just one person
does it, they may think he's really sick and they won't LISTEN TO him. And
if two people...two people do it -- in harmony -- they may think they're
both XXXXXXX and they won't LISTEN TO either of 'em. And if three people do
it...three... can ya imagine three people walkin' in and TEACHIN' ABOUT THE
NATURAL WORLD and walkin' out? They may think it's an organization! And can
you...can you imagine fifty people a day...I said fifty people a day,
walkin' in TEACHIN' ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD and walkin' out? Then, friends,
they may think it's a movement. "

Here's to the start of a NANFA education movement! Cheers!

Rob Denkhaus
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
"El muerto a la sepultura, el vivo a la travesura"
"The dead to burial, the living to mischief"

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