Protect, Conserve, Enhance logo

by Peter A. Colangelo, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

For this, the first "Protect, Conserve, Enhance" column of the new century and the new millennium, I want to focus on the future. The Fish & Boat Commission has many future-looking programs, and our strategic planning efforts, as well as those to attract adequate funding for our infrastructure and program needs, represent our commitment to a bright future for fishing and boating in Pennsylvania. From a long-term perspective, our education programs hold a key to the future of quality fishing, aquatic resource conservation and safe boating.

The Fish & Boat Commission has always been a leader in the number and quality of education programs offered to the public. Subject areas for formal courses range from boating safety to teacher workshops. All courses are taught by Fish & Boat Commission employees or certified volunteers.

The Commission has two distinct subject areas that generally apply to all its education programs: Boating safety and aquatic resource education.

Our boating safety education programs lead the nation in course variety and content. Students who successfully complete Commission boating courses receive a Boating Safety Education Certificate issued by the Commission. All courses meet the mandatory education standards for motorboat operation set by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

The Commission's "core" boating safety course is an 8-hour lesson called "PA Basic Boating." Although this video-driven classroom course (and test) was designed for recreational powerboaters, anyone interested in boating or boating safety can take this popular course. Boaters who operate Jet SkisŪ, Sea DoosŪ, Wave RunnersŪ, Tiger SharksŪ or other personal watercraft (PWC) have the opportunity to take the PA PWC Course or the Boating Safety Education Certificate Examination (PWC Equivalency Exam). The PWC Equivalency Exam is a one-hour course followed by a comprehensive 50-question test.

The Commission's Boating and Water Safety Awareness Course is very popular with schools and summer camps. The most unusual "boating" courses the Commission offers are those devoted to water rescue. The Commission trains instructors in water rescue and emergency response, emergency boat operation, line systems rescue and ice rescue.

In 1999, Commission staff and instructors certified and trained more than 28,000 boaters and emergency response personnel. With the incentive of our new mandatory education requirements for personal watercraft operators, we issued more boating safety education certificates in 1999 than ever before. I can say without qualification that the Commission's boating education courses help save lives and promote the safe and courteous operation of boats.

Our aquatic resource education programs fall under the broad umbrella of the "KARE" program. The Keystone Aquatic Resource Education program has three main components that provide information about aquatic resources and fishing skills.

In this issue of Pennsylvania Angler & Boater, you will find the Pennsylvania League of Angling Youth (PLAY) quarterly newsletter. Designed for children in grades four through six, the newsletter is packed with activities and articles to enhance a child's fishing skills, boating knowledge, safety and outdoor manners.

The second component of the KARE program is the Fishing Skills Instructor Workshops. In these workshops, the Commission certifies park staff, youth group leaders and other interested persons to teach fishing with a safe, ethical and conservation-oriented approach.

And third, designed specifically for educators, the 15-hour KARE Teacher Workshops provide activities and ideas to enhance science, language arts, physical education and social studies classes. Teachers receive three activity books and resource materials to use in their classrooms.

Also, as part of the KARE program, the Commission supports teachers and others who work with youth or adults with an Education Resource Catalog. PLAY activity sheets, SMART Angler pages and selected articles found among the pages of PA&B are available in quantity. Educators have access to our library of educational videos, which vary in subjects from fishing and boating to critters and conservation. To receive a copy of this helpful catalog, visit the Commission's website at www.fish.state.pa.us.

These educational programs are supported by you, the Commonwealth's anglers and boaters, with your purchase of fishing licenses, boat registrations and related equipment. When you take advantage of our education programs, you can improve your skills as a boater and enhance your knowledge of fishing, conservation and boating. Be sure to participate in the wide variety of educational programs offered by the Commission and encourage your friends to do so. By increasing awareness of our Commonwealth's outstanding water resources and our fishing and boating opportunities, we focus on the future and help forge the link between conservation and recreation that is the foundation of protecting, conserving and enhancing our water resources for future generations of Pennsylvanians.

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January/February 2000 Angler & Boater


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