Initiative teaches Erie girls about environmental careers
"Fish on, Jazsmaine."
"Fish on, Tiffany."
"Fish on, Destany."
More and more girls called out their names to indicate they'd caught a fish Thursday at Presque Isle State Park during a Green Collar Career Initiative field trip.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Erie Branch of the American Association of University Women and Environment Erie. The program, which includes four field trips, was designed to expose middle school girls from Erie's Perseus House Charter School of Excellence Maritime Center to environmental job possibilities.
"I think it's cool," eighth-grader Tiffany Mountain, 15, said. "I'm just not happy it's going to be over. It really is a good program."
Organizers said the initiative included presentations by staff from Waste Management, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, North Coast Energy, Asbury Woods Nature Center, the Audubon Society and Pennsylvania Sea Grant.
David Boughton, a maritime education specialist with Pennsylvania Sea Grant, helped the girls fish in a pond from a dock near the peninsula's Rotary Pavilion on Thursday.
Boughton offered to bait each hook once with a grub or piece of hot dog and to remove one fish from each hook. After that, it was up to each girl.
He said he wanted them to have fun while learning a little about fish, including how to catch and release them.
Fishing could inspire one of the girls to become the next steward of the environment, Boughton said.
Or set them on a course for a job with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Pat Lupo, education director for Environment Erie.
She said there will be even more careers related to the environment by the time these girls graduate.
The 17 students, ages 11 to 14, had to apply for the program.
Besides fishing, the girls said they learned about topics like bird banding and water quality.
Next week, their final one with the initiative, they'll hear about solar and wind power and energy conservation.
The AAUW members, who participate in each event with the girls, have been learning too, Barbara Cole said.
The adults and students also have had time to socialize and get to know one another.
After the green careers education each week, the women treat the girls to supper and a motivational talk. Subjects have included the law, manners and planning for the future.
"We like to serve as positive role models," AAUW member Judy Lawrence said. "You never know when a word, deed or action will have lasting impact."