My name is Alessandro Valle, and I am one of the FLI Watercraft Stewards. Recently, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the Kids’ Fishing Day which took place June 23 on Oak Island in Waterloo, NY, sponsored by the Finger Lakes Conservation Club.
In order to provide more information to the community about what our program is about and some of the invasive species that are found in the Finger Lakes, I set up a table at the event, with the program intern, Sarah DePillo. We had samples of quagga mussels and asian clam under magnifying lenses for the children to get a closer look. We also had a display board to give a bit more information about some of the invasive species.
Parents who were waiting for their kids to finish registering or getting their equipment were able to talk with us about some of the invasives they have seen or heard about. It was a good chance for them to give us direct feedback on any concerns or questions they had about what they’ve seen in the lakes they access most frequently. In addition to invasive species that many people knew about, there also were some that we had brought with us that not everyone was familiar with in the Finger Lakes region. Community members who had heard about Hydrilla had questions and wanted to be able to identify it in case they come across a plant that looks similar to it when they’re out on their lake. With laminated samples, photographs of infested sites, and pamphlets to distribute, it was a great feeling to know people were interested in our program and stewards and could turn to us with their questions.
This event was beneficial in that community members will know why the FLI Watercraft Steward Program is in place in the Finger Lakes region. This first season has already given us a lot of insight into what works best for different aspects of the program. The Kids’ Fishing Day was a great success, not only for us, but for community in general. Over 200 kids showed up this year with their families and they enjoyed the great day, not to mention there was no shortage of fish being caught. The Stewards will be out at their posts into September, so feel free to ask them questions or voice some concerns.
We would like to thank the Finger Lakes Conservation Club for allowing us to take part in such a great event and being immensely helpful to us; events that bring together communities while tying in education are very important.