Chapter 15: Pond Outreach, Education, and Consulting
J. Wesley Neal and Ben C. West
Why would a chapter on outreach education and private consulting firms be included in a book on small impoundments? We will answer this by posing two scenarios. First, imagine that you have recently come upon a significant amount of money and have decided to build a fishing pond. Or, you have recently bought land with one or more ponds already in place, and you are interested in managing their fisheries. Would you know where to start? Who do you call to find information and assistance? Most people in the general populace do not readily know the answers to these questions, and those searching for information often eventually call a state, federal, or provincial natural resource agency or private consulting firm for advice. If you are a fisheries professional, there undoubtedly will be opportunities for you to help private landowners manage their impoundments. This chapter hopefully will better prepare you to do that successfully.
Second, suppose you are a promising young student of natural resources with a particular interest in pond management. Are you aware of the opportunities available to you in the field of small impoundment management when you graduate? Chances are, you are aware that you can work for a state agency, but to most students this means a district biologist position. Few consider federal positions with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and even fewer consider state-level positions with the Cooperative Extension Service (CES). What about the private pond management sector? This chapter is written for the promising young student unaware of the many private, state, and federal career paths available, and for the many practicing professionals who may not be aware of the support infrastructure available to them.
Webster’s Dictionary defines outreach as “the extension of assistance or services to persons or groups….” In general, outreach refers to education that occurs outside the classroom and targets nontraditional students, or clients. Underserved clients may consist of specific ethnic groups, age groups, geographic groups, special interest groups, and so forth. Within the context of this book, the clients may be private pond owners, fee fishery operators, homeowner associations, community groups, youth educators, agricultural producers, and anyone who deals, works, plays, or thinks about fishing in ponds!