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Purdue AFS Chapter Assists with Columbian Park Pond Stocking

Students from the Purdue chapter of the American Fisheries Society were part of an effort to begin restocking the newly renovated lagoon at Columbian Park in Lafayette last week.American Fisheries Society students volunteer to stock pond and tag fingerling bass at Columbian Park Zoo, Lafayette.

Alongside professionals from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the City of Lafayette, the students helped stock and tag more than 900 largemouth bass.

The fingerling bass were tagged using the Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) method in which a brightly colored liquid plastic implant is inserted into the fish’s tissue, similar to a tattoo. This will allow an easy way to identify the fish in the future as part of management efforts.

“I hope that through events like this our students can get hands-on experience to support their formal education at Purdue,” AFS adviser Mitch Zischke said. “I also hope that students can see the broader impact of what we do as fisheries scientists. Finally, events like this are a great opportunity to get our students to engage with managers and community partners.”

For one student, Jonah Switzer, the experience was a way to make an impact on his hometown.

“Being from Lafayette and experiencing the stocking of the waters I fished growing up was extremelyAmerican Fisheries Society students volunteer to stock pond at Columbian Park Zoo, Lafayette. rewarding,” Switzer said. “I have always had my own ideas of how to improve the waters of my hometown and being able to contribute to the improvement of these waters is almost like a dream come true. Getting hands-on with these largemouth bass that I will hopefully catch in the future was super fun and I can't wait to see what our work does to help future research and management of fisheries in the Lafayette area. Majoring in aquatic sciences, it was incredible to use the information and learn from my major to help the waters of my hometown!

“It was super cool to work with the DNR and the Lafayette parks officials to see people who truly care about why these fish are being stocked and truly care about improving the fisheries of my town. After the extensive dredging and work they put together at Columbian Park, it was really cool seeing these fish get released into a beautiful, clear water lagoon. Those words would have been unimaginable five years ago.”

For Purdue’s AFS president Avery Matthews, the pond stocking was beneficial both personally and for future students who follow in his footsteps.

 “It was great to be a part of the initial stocking and management program at the new Columbian Park Lagoon,” Matthews said. “Even though I will be graduating in May it is very exciting to know that future students in our club will have the opportunity to continue the management program that was started by tagging and stocking these fish. It was great to work with the DNR and park officials and get some inside information as to what improvements were made to the lagoon.

American Fisheries Society students volunteer to stock pond at Columbian Park Zoo, Lafayette.I always enjoy the hands-on experiences when it comes to my major. I think it is a great way to tie in some of the things we learn in the classroom to what really happens in the professional world. Being a part of AFS has given me so many opportunities in both professional development and hands-on fisheries experience to better my experience as a Purdue student.”

 Zischke noted that the stocking is just a part of the transformation of the Columbian Park pond area and said that he has high hopes for the future.

It’s a great feeling to be part of a project like this that will make a long-term impact locally,” Zischke said. “I got to see how neglected the pond was before renovation and it didn't really offer much recreation opportunities for the community. Now, the pond provides a great space with lots American Fisheries Society students volunteer to stock pond at Columbian Park Zoo, Lafayette.of accessibility for fishing, paddle-boating and picnicking. Like I tell the other pond owners I work with – good fishing doesn't happen by chance. It takes deliberate and effective management. I’m really looking forward to working with the IDNR and Columbian Park to continue assessment and management to provide good quality fishing for the community.”

The Indiana DNR plans to stock bluegill fingerlings (2-3 inches) later this fall and catchable sized (12 inches) catfish in the spring. Zischke is hopeful that Purdue AFS will be able to assist with these stockings and have continued involvement at Columbian Park Lagoon.

For more on the Columbian Park lagoon restocking effort, check out these stories by WLFI and the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

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