Guest Post by Lisa Winters
Arizona Game and Fish Department Fish Biologist Lisa Winters and NAU Centennial Forest Manager Cheryl Miller teamed up to bring native fish into the classroom at Haven Montessori School on Tuesday, March 22nd. Critically endangered bonytail chub, desert pupfish, and razorback sucker, among other species were toted into the elementary classrooms of Kristine Downard and Elisa McKnight via a big green wagon. Children discussed the threats posed to our Arizona native fishes, and then explored the unique adaptations of each fish and made predictions as to their preferred habitat. The highlight was the chance to hold a large, nonnative bluegill; though a bit “slimy”, its sharp spines were a notably different protection than what native fish possess.
Arizona Game and Fish also currently participates in the Scientists in the Classroom program, with aquariums set up in both Kathryn Wertz’s 6th grade and Jillian Worssam’s 8th grade classrooms at Sinagua Middle School. Always an attention-grabber to have live fish, the goal of Native Fish in the Classroom is to encourage appreciation of native Arizona fishes and introduce students to wildlife careers through data collection and critical observation, while further preparing students to become stewards of local watersheds and make informed decisions on caring for the environment. Hopefully the memories will last a lifetime!
Thank you to Lisa Winters for her blog post and photos, and to Arizona Game and Fish and NAU's Centennial Forest for all you do to help STEM education in Flagstaff!
Flagstaff STEM Coordinator