HUCK-FIN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
Huck-Fin Environmental Education is committed to providing students an incentive program, which encourages them to attain a high level of academic excellence.
Huck-Fin Environmental Education
Imagine a learning environment where waves lap against the side of the classroom, where the cries of seagulls aren’t just background music and where the whir of a fishing rod means testing has begun. The Huck-Fin Environmental Education program brings this vision to life. The program teaches environmental science and leadership development through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on activities such as fishing trips. The outings to the Huck-Fin organization’s private lake or onboard privately chartered ocean sportfishing boats are an incentive for students to improve grades and maintain good behavior. The Huck-Fin program has been the key to helping build student resiliency and enhancing academic achievement. This is especially important in the areas that Huck-Fin reaches, which serves some of the highest needing communities in California. Located in southern San Diego County near the border with Mexico, nearly half of Sweetwater’s 37,800 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, a figure that is as high as 90% at some schools. In addition to economic disadvantage, a significant percentage of Huck-Fin’s youth come from homes where adult educational attainment is low. The program has triple benefits—an exciting water sport enhanced with peer mentoring and science learning in San Diego’s fabulous outdoor settings.
Our Huck-Fin Program has several goals in striving to educate today’s youth. We realize that youngsters in the present do not have the opportunities that were available 20 to 30 years ago. Parents have less time to spend with their children. We need to educate as many students as possible, so they can conserve the natural resources that are still left today. In this way, our students will be able to enjoy the native plants, animals, and the lifelong sport of fishing. We not only want these students to enjoy nature and the environment, we also want them to use it in the proper manner so future generations can also enjoy it. When our program first started, Huck-Fin served only two junior high schools. We now service over 22 junior, middle, and high schools, as well as community centers and churches throughout San Diego County. Huck-Fin teaches students that if you are not going to eat your catch, practice C.P.R. (Catch-Photograph-and Release). We encourage conservation, wildlife management and many other ways of aiding our fragile ecosystem.
In addition to environmental issues, students are educated about fishing in both saltwater and freshwater settings. Some of our class lessons include: local water sheds, fishing tackle, setting up tackle, fish and wildlife identification, casting, finding fish locations, baiting, lure use, where San Diego’s water comes from, how kelp improves our lives, knot tying, and the importance of fish as a resource. Some lessons are integrated into the program through casting contests, field trips, knot tying contests and tournaments, etc. We want these activities to be fun, and yet educational in nature.
Huck-Fin Environmental Educations Goals and Objectives:
In the future, one of our goals is to expand our activities by offering High School tournaments for both saltwater and freshwater. Currently, we are holding our freshwater High School Tournament, where teams from eleven High Schools will be competing. We intend to increase our existing volunteer community service activities for more High School students. They need community service credits to graduate. High School students would receive community service credit through Huck-Fin projects that help to aid the environment.
We are currently developing a joint venture between the Sweetwater Union High School District, Huck-Fin and Southwestern Community College. Through this venture, High School students would be able to receive college credit for a Huck-Fin class taken at a district high school. Qualified college instructors would teach Huck-Fin students about environmental issues for community college credit. Not only would this class be interesting, but a great way for youths to transition into college.
In review, the Vision of our Huck-Fin program is to educate youths concerning the environment. We aim to teach teens environmental conservation and the lifelong sport of fishing, while keeping school fun. We also have the goal of offering students an irresistible reward, which encourages them to attain a high level of academic excellence. In addition, we want to expand our program to other geographic areas and partner with schools, businesses, community centers, environmental groups, wildlife centers, and churches. Furthermore, we want to partner with more colleges to attain college credit for high school students.
Huck-Fin recognitions and awards:
1. Channel 10 TV Community Leadership Award
2. Emmy for the instructional video “ Fish On”
3. Nomination for Golden Bell State Award
4. Certificate of Recognition from the Board of Trustees, Sweetwater Union High School District
5. Recognition of Appreciation from Montgomery Junior High School A.S.B.
6. Award of Excellence and Appreciation from San Diego County Parks and Recreation
7. Wells Fargo Bank Award of Community Service Excellence for the last two years
8. Certificate of Appreciation from Chula Vista Nature Center for the building of the Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden by the Huck-Fin Summer Academy
9. Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Chula Vista and Police Department for the Huck-Fin Graffiti Clean Up Program
10. Letter of Appreciation from the San Diego Office of Education for the Huck-Fin Homeless Outreach Program for the Homeless Kids of San Diego County
Huck-Fin’s Impact on Students, Schools, Communities and Environment:
The Huck-Fin program is now reaching out to 22 secondary schools within the Sweetwater Union High School District in San Diego County California, as well as several local Community Centers. Because of the nature of our program, students are encouraged to join Huck-Fin so that they can reap the rewards of their dedication and hard work. Kids involved in the Huck-Fin program show improvements in attendance, grades, behavior and overall motivation. Students learn first-hand, that listening, watching and practicing definitely pays off. Schools and students are rewarded with fishing field trips, environmental tours and seminars with guest speakers. The Huck-Fin Program also improves motivation by providing students with great incentives such as tournaments, the Annual Banquet of Champions, and the only Varsity High School Lettering Program in the nation for the sport of fishing.
What student would not enjoy a day out of school, on the water, with school friends, as a reward for keeping their grades up and improved attendance? Our community outreach program has incorporated senior centers, homeless teen shelters, and work at local wildlife and nature centers. Students are also involved in community projects that improve the environment. It has been proved and documented that Huck-Fin increases student performance, helps students enjoy school, as well as offering an irresistible reward. The impact of this project yields well-rounded individuals who are environmentally aware and community oriented.
How Huck-Fin Can Be Replicated:
Our program can be duplicated and adapted to any school district, after school program, or community center in the nation. The current application of Huck-Fin would be the template that staff and students would easily fit into. Each school or center would supply an instructor or several instructors. Classes would be taught before any field trips are taken. The Huck-Fin staff would aid instructors throughout the process. New instructors would be taught in teacher training meetings and in in-class demonstrations. Of course, the teachers or staff members who show knowledge and an interest in the environment and fishing would be chosen first to become Huck-Fin Instructors.
Instructors and Huck-Fin staff would use the current saltwater and freshwater lesson plans. These packets would most likely be adapted to the local environment and current conditions. Guest speakers and local field specialists would be called upon to enhance and enrich the local program. Field trips to the ocean, lakes, rivers or streams would be arranged at the site level by meeting with instructors, leaders, and administrators in charge. Transportation, student lunches, and other objectives, would be handled accordingly.
In fact, we are working towards accomplishing this national growth, and are seeking funding to do so.