Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
June 2007

The Mobile Aquatic Classroom Hits the Road

By Tracy Smith
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A young visitor to the mobile aquatic classroom in Sitka tries his hand at fly tying. Photo by Tracy Smith.

It’s spring again – the birds are singing, the days are longer and that pile of snow in the yard has finally melted … and wait, what is that? It’s a truck … it’s a trailer… and it’s covered in FISH?!? It is the Mobile Aquatic Classroom. Out of hibernation, the MAC is on the road again and gearing up for the summer season.

This is the fifth year for the MAC, operated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Sport Fish. The MAC travels state wide via the highway and marine highway system on a rotating schedule. Last summer we visited quite a few communities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna, Sterling, Seward, Kodiak, Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Cordova, Valdez, Homer, Cooper Landing, Palmer and Wasilla.

This summer destinations include Cooper Landing, the Kenai River Festival in Soldotna, the Campbell Creek Youth Fishing Day in Anchorage, the Copper River Festival in Cordova, the Youth Fishing Days in Homer and Whittier, the Seward Silver Salmon Derby in Seward, the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. Dates for the events are listed at the end of this article

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A visitor checks out the inhabitants of a salt water fish tank in the mobile classroom. Photo by Tracy Smith.

The MAC offers a wide variety of displays and hands-on activities that vary with each community it visits. Displays range from aquariums with live fish, aquatic invertebrates, tide pool touch tanks, adult fish identification, fishing gear setups, plankton under microscopes and compound scopes and educational videos on the 42” flat screen TV.

Hands on activities include knot tying, making your own rigging, fly tying, fish printing on t-shirts, stream sampling, saber tooth salmon hat coloring activity, chucky chum salmon life cycle, and a new one for this year: canning & smoking, led by Samantha Oslund (Sport Fish Division Palmer) and Katie Sechrist (Commercial Fisheries Division Anchorage), which proved to be a huge success at the Great Alaskan Sportsmen Show in Anchorage.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the paint job is 3D! We have 3D glasses on hand for visitors to check out the amazing paint job, which was hand painted by Hermanos Huachinango (also known as the “Rockfish Brothers”) Alaskan artists Ray Troll and Carla Potter and San Diego artists Roberto Salas and Guillermo Jauregui.

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Investigating aquatic creatures in the mobile classroom. Photo by Tracy Smith.

June 9-10 Kenai River Festival, Soldotna
June 23 Campbell Creek Youth Fishing Day, Anchorage
July 6-8 Copper River Festival, Cordova
August 4 Youth Fishing Day, Homer
August 18-19 Seward Silver Salmon Derby, Seward
August 24 Kids Day Alaska State Fair, Palmer
September 14 Skilak Lake Sampling, Cooper Landing
September Youth Fishing Day, Whittier

Tracy Smith is the trucker/educator with the mobile aquatic classroom. She is an education associate with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Sport Fish, based in Anchorage. In addition to the Mobile Aquatic Classroom, Smith also coordinates the Southcentral Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop and other Southcentral regional aquatic education activities.

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