In this latest blog, our Education Services Coordinator, Emily Fulda and National Fisheries & Angling Manager John Ellis tell us why engaging children with our waterways will shape the future of the Trust.
With half the population living within five miles of one of our waterways, the canal network is the ideal location for young people to learn to fish. For the first time, the Trust have decided to become an active partner in the annual National Fishing Month initiative. We currently have more than 20 events planned between 22 July and 29 August and are looking for more clubs to help us with this work. Should this be of interest to you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fish themselves are another great way of engaging with young people to enjoy our canal network. One of our recent initiatives has been Fish Rescue Education Days (FREDs). The Trust undertakes dozens of fish rescues each year, associated with the national stoppage programme which is necessary to keep our historic network in good state of repair.
When the site is suitable, we invite children from local schools to come and observe the fish rescue in operation. Under the supervision of the Trust’s fish rescue contractors, the children get to hold, weigh and measure some of the fish before they are safely returned to the water. Some schools have even set homework tasks based on the FRED.
With input from both teams we have recently developed a fish card game called 'Beat That,' which is another way of introducing the world of fish to the next generation of potential anglers. Explorers have also created a pocket trail book for children which encourages them to get out on the towpath and participate in some fishy activities.
Fishing offers lots of hooks (sorry…) into the education world. This was demonstrated recently at the Education Show when Explorers ran a magnetic fishing game for teachers. After catching a fish with a magnetic fishing rod, teachers had to determine if it was a native species or an alien invader. This ties in with habitats, living things and environmental protection in the national curriculum.
When people ask what the Trust’s education team does, I tell them we engage children with our waterways and teach them about the history and nature that you can find along them. Responses are usually along the lines of, 'that's nice, what a lovely job!'
They're right! It is a lovely job. But we don't do it just because it's great fun, that's a bonus. We do it because it's vital to securing the future of our waterways.
The truth is, our waterways today aren't used for what they were built for and they're no longer fundamental to the industry of our country. But this isn't the future we are trying to safeguard. In retiring from their industrial past, our waterways have become idyllic places for people to enjoy. Places to escape the stresses of modern life, to observe a wide array of nature and to become part of a community. Our waterways are a place to belong. This is what we're trying to conserve because, well, why wouldn't you want to protect something so special?
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from this author