2009 Save Our Sturgeon Event On October 7th, 2009, the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) celebrated its fourth annual Save our Sturgeon Festival at Riverside Park in Vanderhoof. This program was created in order to teach schoolchildren about white sturgeon conservation with the hopes that they will grow up to be our future white sturgeon ambassadors. In previous years, kids each released a 4 month-old juvenile white sturgeon into the Nechako River as part of the NWSRI's continuing effort to help restore endangered white sturgeon stocks. Unfortunately due to funding constraints in 2009, there were no juvenile sturgeon to kids to release into the Nechako River this year. However, we were still able to put together an engaging and fun filled day for enthusiastic schoolchildren from School District 91. Our event included three distinct stations:
- White Sturgeon Biology and Conservation: At this station, kids learned about the white sturgeon life cycle, habitat needs and current status. There were river insects to look at and touch, along with radio and PIT tags to check out. Prizes were given to the students with the best questions.
- Water Quality Station: Here students covered the importance of water quality for sturgeon and the science behind water quality monitoring. Kids were able to test Nechako river water for dissolved oxygen levels, Ph and turbidity. Races measuring river velocity were very popular!
- White Sturgeon Kite Flying: In advance of the event, participating schools were asked to prepare kites that fell into one of three themes: representation of the white sturgeon and/or its habitat needs, the highest-flying kite (i.e., most technically proficient), and the zero cost/most environmentally friendly kite (i.e., made of natural/recycled materials). Classes were each given $50 to purchase materials. Although it was not a very windy day, there was enough of a breeze to get the kites up into the air, and the kids had a great time running around with their creations. Prizes were awarded in each of the categories, and the grand prize winners are on display at the District of Vanderhoof offices.
Over 200 children attended the day's events, and feedback from both teachers and students has been extremely positive. Although we are hopeful that next year we will have fish for kids to release (as this is really what people want to come out for!), the NWSRI will continue to work with educators to develop a program that keeps children engaged and helps them increase their knowledge and in turn positively change behaviours with respect to white sturgeon.
Special thanks to Resources North, the District of Vanderhoof, Rio Tinto Alcan, the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Fraser Salmon and Watershed Program, DFO's Habitat Stewardship Program, Chris Mushumanski and all the numerous volunteers for their help with this event.
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