In 2014 and 2015, FFS conducted 193 programs at the UF Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences facility, involving 11,236 children and their chaperones. Visiting school groups and their teachers, youth clubs, and camps, typically participate in tours, demonstrations, and hands-on environmental learning activities which are specifically tailored to the age and interests of each group.
Visitors generally learn about the life history, biology, and ecology of common freshwater fish. Participants often collect their own invertebrates and/or plants, followed by a brief discussion of their life history, biology and ecology. collect from small ponds using dip nets. Finally, groups are given the opportunity to fish in our ponds stocked with channel catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass.
The programs provide a memorable first experience with the rewarding sport of fishing, in addition to the outdoor educational activities. For many organizations such as Al’s Place of Gainesville, Shands Rehab Hospitals, Altrusa House, Harborchase and the VA Hospital, these activities provide valuable physical and behavioral rehabilitation.
For youth groups, each activity is $1 per youth. Each activity takes roughly an hour to complete. Often, field trips to our facilities involve 2 educational activities followed by fishing (some groups opt to take their lunch on-site before fishing). A trip involving 2 activities, lunch, and then fishing would cost $3 per youth (no charge for chaperones) and take approximately 4 hours.
To schedule a tour for your group, contact Crystal Hartman at 352-273-3622 or email at email@example.com.
Annually, FFS conduct 10 to 20 off-site programs for 1,500 to 3,000 youth and associated participants. UF Faculty and staff, along with volunteers (generally graduate students and biologists) visit schools for career-day seminars and educational presentations on the biology and ecology of fish, aquatic plants, and aquatic invertebrates found in Florida streams, lakes, and ponds.
FFS also conducts hands-on environmental education and ecology presentations and fishing days around the state. FFS works with groups such as 4-H, the YMCA, Scouts, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local nature centers, and Ducks Unlimited to conduct these educational programs. FFS also hosts interactive exhibits at youth fairs, festivals (such as the Springs Festival, hosted annually by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection), and museums, which allows FFS to interact with large numbers of school-age children and their parents.
Activities during off-site events vary widely. Depending on the venue, we offer hands-on, educational talks about aquatic invertebrates, and their life history, biology, and ecology. Older groups can experience the thrill of using nets and waders to collect fish from nearby streams, ponds, and lakes, learn to identify certain freshwater fish species, as well as learn about how sampling techniques are used to scientifically manage non-game and sport fish populations. Sampling and educational programs may also cover aquatic plants and water chemistry/quality.
Off-site programs are generally organized, coordinated, and funded by local sponsors, including UF County Extension faculty. Given that we receive little or no funds for travel from UF, we cannot participate in all requested programs and may need reimbursement for our mileage. To schedule a FFS presentation for your group, contact Crystal Hartman at 352-273-3622 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.