Nov. 8, 2011-- The 2011-12 Native Fish in the Classroom (NFC) aquatic education stewardship project officially began for approximately 2,000 Louisiana students in grades 6 through 12on Saturday, Oct. 22, when NFC teachers picked up bluegill from the Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in Pineville.
The NFC project is in its tenth year and is a partnership between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Education Section, LDWF Fisheries Extension and the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program. The project provides a hands-on learning experience that strives to teach students about aquatic ecosystems and develop an attitude of stewardship toward our natural resources. The bluegill will be used by NFC teachers in 17 schools, representing 11 parishes, to stock their classroom nursery tanks. The role of the bluegill is to stabilize water quality in nursery tanks until paddlefish eggs are received from Booker Fowler in the spring.
From March to early May, students will raise the protected paddlefish from eggs to fingerlings. During this time, students will learn about water quality and biology as they maintain habitat for their paddlefish. Teachers receive a Native Fish in the Classroom Guidebook which contains student aquatic activities, biology background information and problem solving solutions for the classroom. In May, the paddlefish fingerlings will be released at an LDWF approved site that provides suitable habitat.
Prior to receiving bluegill for their classroom tanks, students have been tested to determine their knowledge of aquatic ecosystems. Students will be tested again in the spring, after completing the project, to measure the effectiveness of the program. In prior years, students have shown a significant increase in overall content knowledge. The program was also shown to have a positive effect on students’ attitudes towards Louisiana’s natural resources.
Teachers participating in the NFC project attend two training workshops before receiving the paddlefish eggs in the spring. Veteran teachers mentor new teachers to the program. In addition, students and teachers are encouraged to contact LDWF biologists for guidance throughout the school year.
For more information about the NFC project, visit the Louisiana Marine Education Resources website at http://www.lamer.lsu.edu/nativefish/index.html  or contact Angela Capello at 318-748-6999 or firstname.lastname@example.org , or Diane Lindstedt at 225-578-1558 or email@example.com  .
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb  or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.