Project update – Outreach for managing coldwater lake habitats

We’re excited to share some fun educational materials developed for children as part of an MGLP-funded a project! The project’s goal is to develop scientific assessments to prioritize local- and broader-scale threats to coldwater lakes to guide fisheries management and build resilience to ecosystem change. Understanding the response of coldwater lakes to internal and external stressors is important for managers to develop strategies for protection of coldwater habitat. The project team is busy compiling and analyzing data, but today we’d like to highlight education and outreach materials created by two team members, Jacob Angus (University of Minnesota undergraduate) and Danielle Kuball (University of South Dakota undergraduate).

Lesley Knoll, project co-lead, and Jacob spent last summer working at Itasca Biological Station and Labs (IBSL), a University of Minnesota research station within Itasca State Park. Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, is a popular destination for tourists and local school groups. Lesley, Jacob, and several other IBSL staff led three mobile outreach events at the Mississippi headwaters last summer. Their outreach program was entitled “Five Facts in Five Minutes: Fishy Business –Protecting Coldwater Fish Habitat”, and they interacted with approximately 200 school-age kids. The outreach activities focused on coldwater fish and characteristics of coldwater habitat (especially temperature and dissolved oxygen).

One of the projects that Danielle worked on last summer was creating illustrations to use as outreach materials. Danielle used her artistic skills to produce “Coldwater Fishes of Minnesota” and “Coldwater Habitat” coloring sheets. These documents are official MNDNR publications, branded with the MGLP logo, and are available for use by everyone. The “Coldwater Fishes” coloring sheet was used as a handout at the IBSL outreach events. It was also provided to the public libraries in Mahnomen and Bagley, MN and is included in their “Underwater Exploration: Fish Sense” educational packets.

The team for this project spans the MGLP footprint. Lesley Knoll (now at Miami University in Ohio) and Heidi Rantala (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) lead the group, which includes Nicole Hayes (University of Wisconsin – Stout) and Gretchen Hansen (University of Minnesota). The team will reach out to managers, lake associations, and other groups to share the results of this project in the future.