The next generation of conservationists, recreationists are here


Student Max Caruso, right, practices casting with FS employee Morgan Brandenburg before trying his luck in the water. Forest Service photo by Val C. Armstrong.

NEW MEXICO – The mission was simple: a fishing pole in each hand and a smile on every face.  The Forest Service partnered with several other organizations to help celebrate Earth Day 2018 by spending a sunny spring day lakeside teaching approximately 160 deaf and hard of hearing students from the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy and the Presbyterian Ear Institute to fish.

On April 18, 2018, kids and adult volunteers met at Sandia Lakes Recreation Area on the Pueblo of Sandia north of Albuquerque, NM, for a Fishing and Outdoor Classroom. 

Volunteers helped the students prepare their fishing poles, bait their hooks and cast their lines into the lake in hopes of getting a bite. It didn’t take the young anglers-in-training long to start reeling in their catch. 

Sandia Lakes gave the students permission to harvest up to two fish each. If a fish was a keeper, it was taken to a cleaning station where kids watched wide-eyed as volunteers demonstrated the art of cleaning a fish while providing an impromptu lesson on fish biology.  By chance, a pair of Canadian geese helped enhance the students’ nature experience by escorting their five goslings around the lake.

Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation, New Mexico Game and Fish, The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined 26 Forest Service volunteers from Human Resources Management, the Chief Information Office, the Southwestern Regional Office and the Rocky Mountain Research Station for the outdoor classroom at Sandia Lakes. 

Participating organizations set up educational activity booths for the kids to explore, and the New Mexico Youth Conservation Foundation provided lunch to cap off a memorable day of conservation education happily disguised as fun.

Breana Lente, a student at the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, poses with her prize catch, a good-sized rainbow trout from Sandia Lakes.
Breana Lente, a student at the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, poses with her prize catch, a good-sized rainbow trout from Sandia Lakes. Forest Service photo by Val C. Armstrong.