Kids’ Day — Humans fishing, goats eating

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Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008

I got a chance to check out the Kids Fishin’ Pond this morning and witness first hand just how excited kids get when they actually catch a fish on their own.

The Fishin’ Pond has been running for three years, with more than 6,000 kids showing up to learn the catch-and-release method. After pre-registration in the morning, orange-shirted volunteers, who today came from the Sport Fishing Club in Johnson County, help out young anglers until they catch at least three fish, or until the 15-minute shift is up.

This gives everyone an equal shot at catching their own fish, for the sake of fairness if nothing else. Kacie Ehrenberger, Go FishIN coordinator, and Pat Cooper of the DNR Fish and Wildlife Division’s Natural Resources Education Center, kept things running smoothly, while Communications Extraordinaire Marty Benson kept the kids entertained while they waited in line.

Even if you don’t have kids between the ages of 5 and 16, I recommend stopping by just to hear the pond-wide cheers when somebody catches one of the 1,200 bluegill and catfish for the very first time.

I also made a point of stopping by the Roving Naturalist to hear DNR Lake and River Enhancement staffers Angela Sturdevant and Greg Bieberdorf talk about invasive species. Highlighted were hydrilla, aka “An Invisible Menace” and Eurasion Watermilfoil, code name “Boater’s Nightmare.”

Outside of educating the public, LARE also gives grants to lake groups who work to prevent these invasions. To be honest, this is an issue I never really thought about before, though it is valid and significant nonetheless. In fact a lot of the stuff going on in and around the Natural Resources Building aims to inform people about things that are incredibly important to Indiana and the community. To say the least, it’s neat.

Finally, we come to Goat Mountain. Words can’t express the joy I get out of being around this “mountain” – a hill of grass with several huts and a line of open pens in front. Several goats occupy the pens, including the Pigmy Goat, the massive Aoudad, the absolutely gorgeous Nilgai (No one can really call a goat gorgeous, can they?), and the Alpine Goat.

For a mere quarter you can feed these animals grain and oats, which they delicately but enthusiastically lick off of your hand. For a dollar, you can snag a bag of carrots – goats need veggies, too!

– Katy

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