Aquatic Stewardship Education in Theory and Practice

Developing Tomorrow’s Anglers and Aquatic Stewards: Formative Evaluation of MinnAqua’s Leaders’ Guide

Amy Grack Nelson and Jenifer Matthees


Abstract.—MinnAqua, a program of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Division of Fish and Wildlife, educates the state’s youth about angling and aquatic resources. In 2001, MinnAqua began developing a leaders’ guide so educators could carry out MinnAqua activities in their own setting. As part of the development process, a formative evaluation was undertaken to answer two questions: (a) to what extent are MinnAqua’s rewrite guidelines addressed in individual lessons and the leaders’ guide as a whole?, and (b) to what extent does the leaders’ guide meet the educational needs of intended users in both formal and informal education settings? Evaluative feedback was gathered from a variety of individuals over two stages of data collection, with revisions occurring after each stage. During stage one, formal and informal educators pilot tested lessons in their respective educational settings and provided input through surveys, critiques, and focus groups. DNR Fisheries staff also critiqued lessons to ensure the scientific accuracy of the biological information. Stage two involved instructional design experts verifying educational content in the lessons, educational outreach partners commenting on how the leaders’ guide could be used to support their outreach efforts, and an accessibility expert determining how to adapt MinnAqua lessons for use with individuals with physical disabilities. The evaluation results were used to verify the incorporation of the rewrite guidelines, identify ways to strengthen the extent to which the guidelines were addressed, and modify the leaders’ guide to more fully meet educators’ needs.