SHEGUIANDAH—You could see and hear the enthusiasm of the fourth graders who participated in the Bass Creek Education Program, led by members of the Little Current Fish and Game Club (LCGGC) and the Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association (MSIA).
“We’re doing this for future generations, so that students like you learn the importance of conservation to the future of fishing,” said LCFGC member Bill Strain. Held over three days last week, students from seven elementary schools around Manitoulin Island, including Charles C. McLean (Gore Bay), Central Manitoulin (Mindemoya), Little Current, Assiginack (Manitowaning), Wasse-Abin (Wiikwemkoong ), Shawanosowe (Birch Island) and Lakeview (M’Chigeeng) participated in the program held at LCFGC Bass Creek Hatchery.
“Our students (and volunteers) had a fantastic time with you all on Wednesday,” wrote Little Current Public School teacher Melissa McCulloch in a letter to Bill Strain and LCFGC members. “The event was our first field trip in almost three years and we were certainly not disappointed! The students were so excited to participate and by the time we got back to school, many were saying it was “the best school trip ever!” Ms. McCulloch continued. “Thank you for teaching us so much about our local waterways and fisheries in such a fun and hands-on way. It was just what we needed! also to protect and enhance fish populations, local habitats and sustainable ecosystems.
“By the way: my partner, our eight-year-old son and I went out in our canoe on Wednesday evening after your event to try our luck at dinner. We ended up landing a small pike and our son helped catch it,” Ms McCulloch wrote. “Young anglers are thrilled to be on the water and enjoying the fishing experience, as do their friends and family! Keep up the fantastic work.”
At a session last Wednesday for grade four students at Little Current and Assiginack Public Schools, Mr. Strain said, “We would like to welcome everyone here today. Unfortunately, we have not been able to run this program for the past two years (due to COVID-19).
Mr. Strain first took all the students on a tour of the trapnets to show them how they work. Walleyes are removed from the weirs, brought to the tanks, milked with sperm and eggs and club members even help mix the two together to fertilize the eggs. As part of his presentation, he pointed out that by protecting a spawning female walleye, a 10-pound fish will lay 300,000 eggs. Conversely, if 30 female walleyes are harvested, that means nine million eggs are destroyed.
“We have a river watch program along Bass Creek from Sheguiandah Bay, and members are here early in the morning to make sure spawning fish are not disturbed or harvested,” said Mr. Strain.
“We work with Manitoulin Streams,” said Strain. “We are very lucky to have an organization like this on the island. They are an excellent organization.
Members of the LCFGC were on hand to show students the club’s hatchery where the fish are raised, followed by a display of warm and cold water fish and animal species, an invasive species exhibit and information such as cormorants. , and a walking tour of the river. Seija Deschenes of Manitoulin Streams taught students how to make a bass nest with a video presentation of MSIA Stream Rehabilitation, the work she does, and how she is helped in many cases by non-profit groups. nonprofits and volunteers, including students. Ms. Deschênes’ presentation included information on how Manitoulin Streams receives funding from provinces, federal government, municipalities and organizations and highlighted MICA’s many accomplishments.
Liam Campbell of Manitoulin Streams introduced the Stream Detective Invertebrates program. He noted that the quality of a body of water can be demonstrated by the insects found there.
The education program has been running since 2005 and has been very successful in educating Grade 4 students in most elementary schools on the island about the importance of conservation to the future of fishing and working made to support and improve this fishery. As a bonus, all participating students receive a fishing rod encouraging them to get into the sport of fishing.
Margaret Stringer, Manitoulin Island administrator with the Rainbow District Board of Education, was on hand for the tour last Wednesday (along with Superintendent Lesley Fisher who joined the students Thursday morning) and told The Expositor, “I have to start with a sincere thank you to all the volunteers of the Little Current Fish and Game Club and Manitoulin Streams! They are very capable and dedicated bands who give so much of their time to their community, and we are so lucky to have them.
“Since 2005, this event has been teaching our Grade 4 students about fish conservation and environmental stewardship. It is definitely a highlight of our Grade 4 students’ education every year, a day they look forward to,” said Ms. Stringer.
“The day provided our students with a rich hands-on learning experience that fits well with the provincial Grade 4 Habitats and Communities curriculum,” continued Ms. Stringer. “But more importantly, the lessons learned today are likely to stay with these young people for the long term while allowing them to see that they can indeed make a difference in this world.”