The Voices of Reality: Why Effective Fisheries Education Is Challenging; Practical Ways to Move Forward

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 8:40 AM
Fulton (Statehouse Convention Center)
Michael C. Quist , Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho, U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Moscow, ID
Martha E. Mather , U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Manhattan, KS
Donna Parrish , U.S. Geological Survey Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Burlington, VT
Steven R. Chipps , South Dakota State University Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, U. S. Geological Survey, South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Brookings, SD
Thomas J. Kwak , U.S. Geological Survey
Craig P. Paukert , Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, U.S. Geological Survey Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Columbia, MO
Improving fisheries education is a goal of both educators and employers.  However, training students for specialized fisheries jobs is a complex problem.  Fisheries-related employment consists of diverse job opportunities that require many different skills.  Most fisheries professionals will experience a diversity of jobs, underscoring the need for fisheries education to provide tools that are applicable beyond entry-level positions.  We detail examples of constraints, challenges, and insights toward improving fisheries education.  One challenge is that state, federal, and private employers expect a minimal level of field-related skills in fisheries graduates.  A constraint is that specialized fisheries field skill training may not correspond with academic evaluation criteria (e.g., grants, publications) for university faculty.  A solution might combine a list of essential fisheries field techniques and problem-solving skills from a joint committee of educators and employers and guidance on linking these fisheries skills to ecological, demographic, and quantitative coursework, internships, and other experiential learning.  Recommendations for implementation might include online training, AFS-sponsored workshops at chapter and division meetings, or capstone university classes.  AFS can play a role in brokering solutions, but only by facing the realities of institutional constraints and the need for forward-looking and creative approaches.