Educating Kids About Conservation With Fishy Fridays

Saskatchewan is rooted by its connection to nature and this has been amplified during this time of social distancing. The “Land of the Living Skies” is more than a provincial tagline, it is a celebration of our love of the outdoors, including the wildlife we share it with. 

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) is a provincial recreation association and member of SPRA committed to making sure the wildlife legacy we leave to our future generations surpasses that which we have inherited.  With these future generations currently learning from home, we talked to Chelsea Walters, Director of Marketing and Communications from the SWF, to find out more about how they’ve adapted their Fish in Schools (FinS) Program in this new reality.  

The Fish in Schools Program (FinS) provides Saskatchewan students with a firsthand look at fish and aquatic habitats in their very own classroom.  Rainbow trout eggs are placed into special incubators and over the course of a few months, students care for the fish and learn about their lifecycle and habitat. In May and June, the trout are released by the students in Saskatchewan’s lakes and rivers.  

The sudden closure of schools left many students concerned about the livelihood and wellbeing of the fish that had been growing under their care. Based on the numerous inquiries from both teachers and parents, this is how “Fishy Fridays” came to be.  “We just wanted to make sure the trout were taken care of,” said Chelsea, “so we decided to live stream the fish on our Facebook page and the children could check in and see how they were doing.” Their video was so well-received that they decided to make “Fishy Fridays” an o-”fish"-ial recurring event. 

“The kids were worried and parents’ needed things for kids to do. Most of us are parents too, so we know. It felt good to have something to help people.”  

With more than 100,000 views of their “Fishy Fridays” videos on Facebook, their FinS program has been engaging people in conservation beyond the classroom. The SWF also has a variety of resources available on their website for teaching children about wildlife identification and conservation, including everything from activity and colouring pages to backyard diversity challenges. These resources help us learn and enhance our appreciation of nature, which is so essential to our health and wellbeing during COVID-19. The SWF’s advice to other organizations is: Don’t be afraid of trial and error.  

“At first, we just wanted to adapt as many programs as possible to virtual/online but now we’re just trying everything.” 

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation receives funding through proceeds from Sask Lotteries. With over 33,000 members in 122 locations across Saskatchewan, they are per capita, the largest wildlife conservation organization of its kind in the world.