Conservation groups, wildlife biologists, recreational anglers, artists and environmental educators gathered recently in Bozeman to celebrate trout. The first-ever International Trout Congress looked at the iconic species from a variety of viewpoints, including “the socioeconomic contributions of trout worldwide and the unique role that trout play in many communities, the role of trout in education and how teachers use trout and their habitats to raise environmental awareness, the art and literature that surround the world of trout, and the science of trout - what have we learned about their life histories and their habitat, and finally how, in spite of an increasingly warm and uncertain future, we can all ensure this remarkable group of fishes continues to provide the values and benefits that have inspired such a passionate following.”
It was the second aspect—the role of trout in education—that brought Project WET Minnesota Coordinator Janine Kohn to Bozeman and inspired our Senior VP John Etgen to join her. Janine, who as part of her position at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also works with Trout in the Classroom and Trout Unlimited, said that Project WET is a natural fit for educating people who care about trout about the importance of watersheds.
“In Minnesota, we have a program that embeds Project WET’s water education activities into the Trout in the Classroom program, which provides aquariums and special chilling equipment to science classes so they can raise trout from eggs and release them into the wild,” Janine explained. “By presenting and participating in the International Trout Congress, we hope to show Project WET can be used together with education about trout to help students understand the water cycle and the role watersheds play in keeping our groundwater and surface waters clean.”
Janine and John presented on a panel session, “Trout as an Educational Platform for Formal and Informal Education Programs”, and offered an introduction to Project WET lessons that are particularly well suited for use with trout-based classroom programs.
John said that taking part in the Congress helped introduce Project WET to an audience that may not have been familiar with our programs previously.
“Until this event, many trout conservationists had not been introduced to Project WET and its hands-on methods of teaching about important water concepts,” he said. “Being able explain watersheds and other key water topics in a way that non-experts can understand is valuable for anyone interested in promoting the preservation of trout.”