Are you hooked on Explore the Blue?

Written by Lance Rougeux

My job at Discovery Education provides me with a lot of unique opportunities to work with some amazing organizations on some pretty incredible projects. A few months ago my colleagues gave me a sneak peek into a new program we were working on with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and I was hooked.

Explore the Blue is a program that seeks to educate students, as well as their parents and teachers, about the need for all of us to take care of our waterways so that we can continue to enjoy the simple pleasures and important lessons that fishing and boating provide.

Thanks to many early morning wake-up calls from my father I started fishing and boating at an early age. We went fishing on local ponds, lakes and rivers in Central Pennsylvania. We went deep-sea fishing during vacation in Delaware while my mother and sister searched for us on the boardwalk.  We lugged a really heavy canoe through the weeds together, and we fished in luxury when my dad bought us a jon boat one summer. Sometimes we caught some fish, sometimes not.  Fishing was always part of the experience, but the experience was always the focus.

I most enjoyed just being outdoors, learning about my surroundings, and spending quality time with my dad who seemed to know everything there was to know about the world above and below the water.  I remember one excursion on the Susquehanna River when I saw a river otter for the first time. My father captured the teachable moment and turned the day into an ongoing lesson about reintroduction of species, conservation and the interdependence of living and nonliving things. And I thought we were just going fishing.

I have been really lucky to grow up with someone who took the time to show me the wonders of the water and the beauty of the outdoors.  But not everyone has that luck, and this is one of the main reasons that I appreciate Explore the Blue. The program provides students, teachers and parents with a variety of resources that help them learn together how fascinating, unique and precious our waterways are.

Here are my top five favorite parts of the site that you should check out…

Teacher Resources – A great collection of lesson plans that cut across the curriculum and allow you to explore the blue beyond science class and into language arts, math, social studies and health/physical education.
Habitat Map – Discover all kinds of aquatic plants and animals that you can find in your neck of the woods (or river).
Contest – Tell them about your favorite boating or fishing adventure and the grand prize winner will receive a trip for a family of four to Yellowstone National Park.
Thrill of the Catch – Go fishing every day of the week with this free, interactive game where you create your own fishing experience while learning about the effects of pollution on our waterways. You can even create your own fish. Be on the lookout for a smallmouth bass named Dr. Bubbly Warmouth.
Family Connection – The most important section. This is how I became hooked on the outdoors so spend some time investigating these activities that give you the opportunity to explore together.

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Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro

Stephanie Vatalaro is vice president of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. Stephanie grew up in the Florida Keys as the daughter of a flats fishing guide. Outside of work, you can find her fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.