Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wildlife Leadership Academy, Fish Commission Partner On Youth Bass Field School

In partnership with the Fish and Boat Commission, the Wildlife Leadership Academy is offering a new, fifth field school this summer called Pennsylvania Bass, focusing on smallmouth bass and the Susquehanna River.
Twenty-four youth leaders and four adults from 18 counties across the state will attend the program June 26-30 in southeastern Pennsylvania.
The Wildlife Leadership Academy, which is coordinated and administered by the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education, is a year-round program that focuses on wildlife and fisheries conservation and leadership development.
The mission of the Academy is to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries and natural resource legacy for future generations.
PFBC Executive Director John Arway championed the agency’s support and development of the Academy’s PA Bass field school for this summer.  
“The smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River continues to be plagued by disease and needs help,” he said. “We’ve explained the river's problems to conservation groups, to the media, to state and federal environmental regulators and to state and federal legislators.”
“The Bass School is an opportunity to now share the river's story with students who have a special appreciation of the river resources and a passion for learning how to protect and conserve our natural resources as our Commonwealth’s next generation of conservation leaders,” he added.
A unique program, the Academy brings the experts to the students. At the PA Bass field school, students will gain considerable knowledge from these experts about bass, their habitat and the conservation issues facing the Susquehanna River.
Students will also develop leadership skills, engaging in team-building activities, educational presentations, and a mock “town hall” meeting on a current environmental topic.  
Participants will be taught by and interact with conservation professionals daily. These professionals will represent PFBC and other agencies, conservation organizations and universities from across the state.
Following their field school experience, students will fulfill their mission as Conservation Ambassadors, returning to their communities and sharing what they have learned.
They will complete conservation outreach that focuses on environmental education, community service, media engagement, participation in the arts, and outdoor mentorship.
Institute Director Michele Kittell expresses her enthusiasm to bring the conservation concerns regarding bass and the Susquehanna River to the youth leaders of Pennsylvania.
"To raise public awareness about the health of the river through our Conservation Ambassadors is an endeavor that we are honored and excited to take on,” she said.   
The Wildlife Leadership Academy will be educating a total of 125 students and 20 adults in the upcoming summer field school season.
After field school, students will return to their communities sharing what they have learned.
To date, the Academy has graduated 274 youth from 60 counties across the state. These Conservation Ambassadors have conducted 1,270 outreach projects; given more than 5,400 hours of work to their communities; and engaged over 25,000 citizens.  
To learn more, visit the Wildlife Leadership Academy website.
For more on smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River, visit the Fish & Boat Commission’s Susquehanna River Impairment webpage or DEP Susquehanna River Study webpage.

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