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John's Journal... Entry 148, Day 1

Teach Youngsters Fishing, A Lifetime Sport - Here's How It Works

Teaching The Joys of Fishing

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mountain Brook Junior High Physical Education Teacher John Phillips from Birmingham, Alabama, coaches basketball, cross-country and track and field. Phillips realizes that not all children enjoy traditional school sports. So, with the help of the Fisheries Section of Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fish, he implemented a fishing curriculum to show his students they can participate in other sports and enjoy them for their lifetimes.

QUESTION: John, why did you decide to teach fishing at Mountain Brook Junior High?
ANSWER: We're trying to do some new things with education. We're building a program called Lifetime Sports to try and reach the kids who aren't motivated by basketball, soccer, volleyball and other traditional team school sports. We want to teach them the joys of individual sports - particularly outdoor sports.

QUESTION: How did you come up with the curriculum?
ANSWER: I found out that the Fisheries Section of Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources would provide the curriculum and the materials free of charge to anyone willing to teach a fishing course to a group or a club.

DOUG DARR, the aquatic education coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries: The program, started by the American Sport Fishing Association, has been around since 1991 and helps people understand more about aquatic habitats, fish and fishing.

QUESTION: Did the Division provide the entire curriculum?
ANSWER: Yes, it did. The state provided workbooks for the students to use that covered the basics of fishing and a master curriculum in the "Sport Fishing Resource Guide" that had lesson plans, as well as an activity book that had puzzles and word finds. The curriculum also had species identification pocket guides to use to identify fish in the surrounding creeks.

DOUG DAR: The topics in the course range from a basic understanding of water, pollution, aspects of fish (how and where they live and what they eat), and boat safety, as well as caring for your catch, fishing from a boat or shore and ethics.

QUESTION: What kind of response did you get from the kids?
ANSWER: They really seemed to enjoy it. We did many different things. We showed slides of different fish and learned to identify them. The kids also learned how to tie knots. They really had a good time with the activities. Most of them had never tied knots before. I definitely would say that after the field trip, the kids would want in the curriculum next year.

To learn more about the Alabama Fishing and Wildlife Curriculum, call Doug Darr in Montgomery, Alabama, at (334) 242 -3884, e-mail him at ddarr@dcnr.state.al.us, or write 64 N. Union St., Montgomery, AL 36130. You also can visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource's Web site at www.dcnr.state.al.us. To learn the particulars about setting up the curriculum, contact John Phillips at Mountain Brook Jr. High (205) 871-3516, or e-mail him at phillipsj@mtnbrook.k12.al.us.




Check back each day this week for more Teach Youngsters Fishing ...

Day 1 - Teaching The Joys of Fishing
Day 2 - An Overview of Fishing
Day 3 - Teaching the Specifics
Day 4 - A Great Day of Fishing
Day 5 - A Valuable Outdoor Experience

John's Journal