2016 Youth Outdoor Fest – A Success!

Aug 12, 2016 | Aquatic Invasive Species, Citizen Advocacy

Shelby Roberts (2016 AIS Intern) and Scott Caven (AIS Coordinator) educate children and their families on aquatic invasive species at the 2016 Youth Outdoor Fest in La Crosse.

In the past decade, Wisconsin has made tremendous progress in educating the public on aquatic invasive species (AIS) and the threats they pose on our precious water resources. AIS outreach comes in all shapes and sizes, from training Project Riverine Early Detectors (RED) volunteers how to properly identify AIS and native look-a-likes to speaking engagements with hundreds of tournament anglers at a Bassmasters tournament; from Clean Boats Clean Waters watercraft inspectors educating boaters and anglers on AIS at high-traffic boat landings to training Snapshot Day volunteers how to properly monitor and identify AIS at bridge crossings. Other invader crusaders participate in AIS outreach events like the Landing Blitz, Drain Campaign, Bait Dealer Initiative and Purple Loosestrife Biocontrol Project, just to name a few. While all of these efforts help educate the public on AIS, it’s critical that we remember to educate today’s youth as well!

In 2014, River Alliance was asked to attend Youth Outdoor Fest in La Crosse to educate children and their families on the threats that AIS pose on our rivers, streams and creeks. River Alliance staff jumped at the chance, especially since the event is huge – bringing in 3,000 to 4,000 attendees each year! The goal of Youth Outdoor Fest is simple: get children outdoors, introduce them to a variety of outdoor activities including kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, hiking and camping, and teaching them the importance of preventing the spread of invasive species.

River Alliance has attended Youth Outdoor Fest in 2014-2016 and will continue to do so in the years to come. To date, the River Alliance booth has featured live AIS including rusty crayfish, zebra mussels, faucet snails, curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil, preserved AIS including Asian clams, round goby, ruffe and red swamp crayfish, and educational outreach materials including Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers bobbers, AIS ID cards, stickers and temporary tattoos. Without question, the River Alliance booth has been one of the more popular destinations at Youth Outdoor Fest, with an estimated 10,000 attendees swinging by the booth in the past three years.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s paddlers, anglers, boaters, hunters, trappers and other outdoor enthusiasts,” states Scott Caven, River Alliance’s Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator. “It’s critical that we educate them on AIS and the devastating effects they can have on our water resources. Youth Outdoor Fest is a perfect opportunity to do exactly that.”

River Alliance reminds you to do your part to ensure you are part of the solution, not the problem! Before launching and leaving, Wisconsin law requires you to:

  • INSPECT boats, trailers, and equipment.
  • REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals.
  • DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment.
  • NEVER MOVE plants or live fish away from a waterbody.
  • NEVER RELEASE plants or animals into public waters.

Click here to learn more about River Alliance’s AIS program.

If you want to participate in AIS montoring we have two upcoming events that are free and require no prior training. Check them out here – AIS Bridge Snapshot Day and Winneconne Water Hyacinth Monitoring.