Students in Kayla Nelson's class at Nay Ah Shing High School learned fisheries science from the pros on Friday, October 5. Kayla developed a unit to teach kids about fish population estimation and received assistance from Fisheries Biologist Carl Klimah and Aquaculture Biologist Keith Wiggins of the Mille Lacs Band DNR.
For their day in the field, they met at the DNR lab near the powwow grounds in District I. Fish caught in Shakopee Lake were transferred to the lab in a boat tank, and kids broke up in groups and recorded species, length, weight, and gender on data sheets. Those who wanted to could remove scales from the fish to determine their age using a microscope.
“It gave the kids firsthand experience in creeling fish,“ said Carl. “This type of experience can be used to obtain part-time jobs in the future with GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission).“
Next, Keith showed the students how to tag fish for mark/ recapture studies, which are used in population estimation. The kids released the tagged fish into Mille Lacs Lake, becoming part of authentic scientific research conducted by the Mille Lacs Band DNR.
The final event was electrofishing. Electrofishing is a common scientific method of encouraging fish to swim towards an area where they can be easily caught, using electricity flowing between two submerged electrodes. The wind was roaring, Carl said, so they stayed in the shelter of the boat landing pond. Even so, there were enough fish present for each student to take a turn.The field day was just one part of a longer unit on fish science. Students will take part in additional fish-related activities throughout the fall.