Dan Anderson, science teacher at MFL MarMac High School, in Monona, is the 2013 recipient of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Brass Bluegill Award for his effort in helping Iowa’s youth become skilled anglers and advocates of fishing and natural resources conservation.

Anderson has taught a fishing and aquatic education unit for nine years and established an outstanding local Fish Iowa! program.

“I usually work with about 20-30 sophomores through seniors ever year in my natural resources science class. I then use my high school students to help teach the kindergartners and 3rd graders casting and a unit on fishing,” he said.

Anderson takes students to the DNR’s fisheries management station in Guttenberg where they assist with electro-fishing to sample walleye and sauger populations.

“The students that go with have a lot of fun and find it hard to believe that people actually get paid to do such a fun job. Most of these kids are hoping for a career in the Iowa DNR,” he said.

Anderson’s class has been involved with various other projects related to Fish Iowa! and Iowa’s  aquatic resources.

His class won the Fish Iowa! Video Contest in 2010 and 2011. His students put together three to five-minute segments on different chapters of the Fish Iowa! module then put the segments together to create a comprehensive fishing instructional video.

Anderson’s class also participated in the clean-up of a two-mile section of Sny Magill Creek and Recreation Area with staff from the DNR’s Big Springs Hatchery.

“I teach Fish Iowa! because I believe we need to get more kids involved in outdoor activities and away from their iPods® and computer screens. Kids who spend a lot of time outdoors value our natural resources and have a greater respect for nature. My dad took me fishing all the time when I was a kid, and those days were the best memories I have of childhood. Hopefully some of these students will take their friends and family out and make some lasting memories too. I enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of kids when they catch their first fish and watching them grab for the last few crumbs off the plate at our fish fry. It’s a lot of organizing, but it’s worth it if we can get more kids involved in outdoor activities,” he said.

Anderson was presented with his award in Des Moines at the May 9 meeting of the Natural Resource Commission. As part of the award, Anderson’s science class received 24 spinning rods and reels with carrying racks from the DNR’s Aquatic Education Program.

Fish Iowa! strives to create safe anglers and responsible stewards of Iowa’s aquatic resources. Fish Iowa! is supported by Sportfish Restoration Funds, which are obtained from excise taxes paid on fishing tackle and related items and fishing license dollars.

Logo courtesy Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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