MANDATA — Something fishy was going on with Jacob Wolfe this summer.
The 17-year-old incoming Line Mountain High School senior participated in the 2016 Wildlife Leadership Academy field school and learned a “tremendous amount of information” on fisheries conservation and habitat management at the five-day camp.
“It was fast paced,” said Wolfe, the son of Joel and Tammy Wolfe. “I learned a lot in five days. We studied anatomy of Brook trout, we looked at macro invertebrates, we learned about habitat requirement and about the importance of conservation.”
Wolfe was one of 97 participants in the Academy. The program, in its 10th year, offered five field schools for Pennsylvania youth this summer, including the Pennsylvania Brookies field school that focused on the state fish at Sieg Conference Center in Clinton County from July 10-14.
The highlight was state Fish and Boat Commission rangers demonstrating electrofish, he said.
Wolfe said his time at the camp is “just the beginning” of his outreach into the community and his future career goals.
“I went to this camp because of my career,” he said. “I love fish. It met my expectations by teaching me so much about the Brook trout, which is our state fish.”
The teen is studying chemistry, wildlife/forestry, animal science and plant science in his upcoming senior year. He plans to attend Mansfield University to study Fisheries Biology.
“It (the academy) really told me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Wolfe said.
In addition to the Brookies camp, the Pennsylvania Bucktails field school focused on white-tailed deer at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County. The Pennsylvania Bass field school focused on bass at Camp Oak in Lancaster County. The Pennsylvania Drummers focused on the Ruffed Grouse at Powdermill Nature Reserve in Westmoreland County. The Pennsylvania Ursids focused on the black bear at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County.
The Academy offers for students a comprehensive study of specific wildlife species, including classroom and field-based, hands on education led by biologists, educators from across the state and other experts. The programs also engages participants in team work, friendly competition and an awareness of their natural world.
Academy Director Michele Kittell said the participants are “the next generation to speak for wildlife conservation.”
“We hope the leadership of Academy youth in their home communities will inspire others to care more and therefore act more on behalf of the environment,” she said.
In the last ten years, 371 Pennsylvania teens from 60 counties in the state have participated in Wildlife Leadership Academy. To date, graduates have conducted 1,840 conservation education, communication, and service projects; engaged in more than 7,600 contact hours with the public; and reached an audience of more than 32,000 Pennsylvania citizens across the commonwealth.
The Wildlife Leadership Academy is a cooperative initiative involving state agencies and conservation organization and is administered by the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education.
Email Justin Strawser at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLStrawser.