Pratt High School science students learn the reality of invasive species of fish in local rivers.

Environmental Science students from Pratt High got to experience hands-on learning on Sep. 24 when the two classes of 33 students total went to Lemon Park to learn about biodiversity in our local ecosystems by electrofishing.
In the Environmental Science class, the students learned about biodiversity and the impact certain fish have on the biodiversity of an ecosystem.
Environmental Science teacher Jacob Schaefer explained how this experience helped students fully understand their studies.
“I wanted to get them outside so they could experience environmental science in reality,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer took both of his Environmental Science classes to Lemon Park, and the students were led by Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Recreation employees Ryan Waters, Mark Van Scoyoc, Jeff Seim, Ariel Snyder, and McKenzie Zielke.
Electrofishing is done by using a generator on a boat to put electricity into the water using anodes.
“Three kids had metal poles called anodes that put electricity into the water,” Schaefer explained. “The electricity caused the fish to float to the top and they get them in the net.”
They then took the fish to a cooler in the boat.
Later, the students were able to study the types of fish they caught, and identify which were native, and which were invasive fish.
Many fish were invasive species.
“They actually don’t belong in our rivers,” Schaefer said. “When they caught an invasive species, (Wildlife and Parks employees) threw them on the bank, since they were killing the native fish.”
Fish like the bass they encountered are not native to this area, Shaefer said, and are harmful to the natural environment.
“A lot of the kids got very upset, because they’re used to catching bass,” Schaefer explained, “but even the stuff we’re familiar with can be detrimental to the natural environment.”
The class like the experience and gained valuable knowledge about biodiversity in rivers.
“We talked about why biodiversity is important,” Schaefer said. “I think they enjoyed it.”
The class learned about multiple aspects of biodiversity, such as the economical factors.
“We talked about the economic benefit of being aware of biodiversity.”
Schaefer also took more time in the lessons back in the classroom to talk about why killing to invasive species was necessary and appropriate, since this upset some of the students.
Schaefer felt this experience was important, because it got the students to see and work with what they had been learning in the classroom.
“The class is the study of the world and the environment,” Schaefer said, “so I wanted them to experience it in reality.”