Aquatic Education: Fishing for Answers

Sixth-grade students (N = 2,916) attending 127 Missouri public schools were surveyed (86% response) to detennine their behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge about fishing and the aquatic environment. Data were collected using a stratified random sampling procedure. Most students enjoyed fishing (82%), although a few students did not want to fish again (7%). Student scores reflected a need for more education about aquatic ecology (67%), aquatic resource management (62%), and water topics (45%). An analysis of variance indicated students' knowledge scores significantly differed for gender, region, population, swimming ability, and parent's fishing experience. Although about one-third ascribed animal-rights philosophies to fish, students are more likely to develop "no kill" values than to avoid sport fishing. Because most sixth-grade students are interested in, knowledgeable about, and participate in fishing, aquatic education programs should take advantage of students' backgrounds and weave aquatic learning opportunities into the curriculum.

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