Kids explore and discover at the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery
Scott Wilson picks up and lifts his youngest son Zack high enough to see the tiny trout eggs. Trays and trays are stacked on top of one another holding thousands of what look like vibrant Orange Skittles. Although Zack is only seven years of age, he carefully listens as the guide points out the good eggs and then the bad eggs.
"We are trying to get the boys interested in learning," says Wilson.
Wilson and his two boys, along with their grandparents, are enjoying a guided tour through the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery. The hatchery is one of four features of the Bow Habitat Station located in Pearce Estate Park in Inglewood.
The boys take turns leaning over giant aquariums filled with trout, comparing the different sizes of fish and watching the beginning of a journey unfold.
"This is good for them because it's interactive," says Wilson, a firm believer in hands-on learning. He wants his kids to gain a better understanding of the environment.
The 30-minute guided tours take visitors on a lively trek to learn the different stages of the hatchery life cycle. It begins with the receiving, sorting, and cleaning of the eggs and ends at the trout ponds where trout up to 35 centimeters in length are ready to leave the hatchery.
Cindy Shropshire works at Bow Habitat Station and explained that the hatchery raises trout only for sport fishing in Alberta, stocking lakes and ponds that get overfished. Every year, it rears and stocks more than 1.5 million fish into Alberta's water bodies.
"It's important to teach children at a young age how to respect the environment, but have fun at the same time," she said. "There is so much to learn about Alberta's wetlands and how we sustain and keep them."
"Everyone has a role to develop an awareness and appreciation of fish and wildlife resources" - Robyn Saude, acting managing director
According to Shropshire, all of the programs offered at the facility compliment Alberta's school curriculum, providing students of all ages with educational and engaging activities. From toddlers to university students, the aim is for everyone to develop their own interest.
Bow Habitat Station reopened October 2009 following a $15-million renovation improving hands-on exhibits, computer programs, displays, aquariums, and ponds of the facility, bringing it to life.
The four areas of the station include the Discovery Centre, Visitor's Centre, Pearce Estate Park Interpretive Wetland, as well as the hatchery, and a broad range of activities to enjoy as a classroom, family, or individually. These include water, fish, and wetland exhibits, the BP Nature Theatre, HSBC Discovery Room and behind the scenes hatchery tours.
Robyn Saude, acting managing director at the Station explains how the exhibits and programs aim to instill stewardship of environment in people by highlighting the responsible planning of resources.
"Everyone has a role to develop an awareness and appreciation of fish and wildlife resources," she adds. "We are creating champions of natural resources."
Bow Habitat Station is open year-round to the public and holds daily tours of the hatchery. For more information regarding programs, admissions, and hours of operation visit their website bowhabitat.alberta.ca.
- By ROXY SECARA