Fishing lessons

Students get up-close with Lake Antoine fish

FROM LEFT, AUSTIN LAFAVE, James Chartier and Sam Yake listen as Jake McWhethey of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division discusses the different species of fish in Lake Antoine during the Iron Mountain middle school’s project-based learning segment on fish. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Focusing on all things fish, the Iron Mountain middle school recently teamed up with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division on a project-based learning segment at Lake Antoine in Iron Mountain.

The fourth year of Project Fish saw more than 50 students sign up for the class, instructor Harvey Johnson said.

“Mark Herman and I came up with the idea to introduce a PBL class where the kids learn hands-on about our water resources in Dickinson County. It has evolved into something pretty special,” Johnson said.

The program started with the DNR netting the lake to get fish samples to let the students get an up-close look at the different species. Seventh- and eighth-graders learned about the importance of habitat, food, how to use large and small fyke and gill nets and how the DNR performs their fish surveys.

It’s a fantastic forum for learning, Johnson said.

JENNIFER JOHNSON OF the Michigan DNR Fisheries Division, teaches students how to use large and small fyke nets. From left are Austin Guldswog, Johnson, Elle Lofholm and Aziza Burgoon. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

“The students are out there with a fyke net in the water getting instruction from Jenn Johnson on how they trap fish. They have the fisheries guy down there, we have the aquatic evasive species coalition here, we have a forester here talking about the watershed in Dickinson County and the different way water runs into our resources,” he said, adding, “It has been really well received by the junior high kids.”

Including Austin Lafave, who rattled off what he’d picked up from the session.

“Today, I learned that we have lots of different kinds of species in our lake and that small mouths spawn up and down the beach area,” Lafave said. “I also learned that fish can have different colors based on where they are on the lake. It’s a great learning experience. It’s always fun to go to different places, and it gets you out of class.”

Jennifer Johnson, DNR Fisheries, put the program together.

“We love doing this education outreach opportunity because it is important for the kids to get outside and learn what is around in the environment,” she said. “I really like to get the kids in waders and put them in the water. I’ll explain how the fyke nets work in detail, and they get a hands-on approach to learning.”

Harvey Johnson said it’s fun teaching the class as well. “We do fish; we had an overnight trip out at Way Dam. We are basically teaching the students to be stewards of the environment. To bring interest to kids who might not have the opportunities with there own families. When they get to the adult age and they buy a license, some of that license goes back into the DNR and the aquatic invasive species,” he said.

He was grateful to all who helped get the program going. “I want to give a shout out to Jenn Johnson and the DNR Fisheries Department because she organizes this event and she is awesome with the kids. And I’m going to shout out to Nick Baumgartner, because he helped us get this class started four years ago when he was working for the Michigan State Extension and the 4-H. He stepped in and showed me the ropes and made some contacts for me,” he said.


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