Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wild Rose hatchery education center wins top national award

MADISON – The Department of Natural Resources Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery renovation has won a second prestigious award, one recognizing the facility’s educational emphasis. The previous award recognized the facility’s engineering design.

The Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery Education Center -- a new building with aquariums and exhibits along with the restored, historic hatchery grounds -- has received one of three Outstanding Project of the Year Awards given by the American Fisheries Society.
Take a look inside the Wild Rose Education Center [VIDEO Length 3:15].

The American Fisheries Society, the nation’s oldest and largest professional fisheries organization, gives three awards for projects built using Sport Fish Restoration funds, revenues collected through a federal excise tax on fishing and boating equipment and revenues and returned to the states to enhance fisheries and boating. Wild Rose won in the “Education” category.

The award was presented Oct. 21 at the Natural Resources Board meeting in Madison by Don Gabelhouse, fish chief for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and outgoing president of the AFS Fisheries Administration Section.

Accepting the award, along with DNR Secretary Matt Frank, Fisheries Director Mike Staggs and Board Vice-Chair Jonathan Ela, were Wild Rose Supervisor Steve Fajfer, Assistant Supervisor Randy Larson, DNR State Fish Propagation Coordinator Al Kaas, and Theresa Stabo, the DNR aquatic education coordinator who designed the concepts and features in the center.

“Wild Rose belongs to everyone,” said Stabo, addressing the board and Gabelhouse. “It has been a pleasure to make it a welcoming and interesting place for everyone to visit.”

While visitors may not remember how many eggs are spawned or fish are raised by the facility, they’ll remember that this is a really interesting place and that our waters are interesting places to explore and fish, she said.

Staggs said after the presentation that the award “underscores the importance of having an aquatic education program as part of what we do, to get kids and others out on the water fishing and interested in our great aquatic resources.”

“It’s really great to hear that what we’re doing up there at Wild Rose is recognized on the national level,” he said.

The education center was completed in 2008 as part of the first of three phases to renovate the century-old hatchery to meet environmental standards and continue to meet stocking needs, particularly for Lake Michigan trout and salmon. It incorporates four historic buildings from the hatchery to share the story of Wild Rose and fisheries management.

Center favorites are the two large, free-standing aquariums that house fish species raised right at Wild Rose, the fish identification wall, many interactive exhibits geared for children and a meeting room available for staff or public use.

The historic hatchery grounds with restored buildings and a picnic area allow visitors and local citizens to continue to stroll the grounds and enjoy a picnic lunch in the picturesque setting, much as people have done for the past century.

“It’s great that the visitor center, which is the focal point for visitors, gets recognized,” said Fajfer, the hatchery supervisor.

This summer, Wild Rose’s new coldwater fish rearing facilities received an Award of Excellence in Engineering from an international association, the Association of Conservation Engineers. That design reflected many of the innovations and other suggestions made by Wild Rose supervisors and staff.

More information is available on the Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery page of the DNR Web site.
Wisconsin annually receives almost $14 million in SFR funding to use for project to enhance fisheries and boating.

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