During my more than 30-year career with New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife I have seen many changes and marked many milestones. None are as personal or special to me as those associated with the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Even as a young biologist I was impressed by the foresight of former DEP Commissioner Jerry Fitzgerald English who insisted that if New Jersey were to construct a state-of-the-art trout production facility, it should also include a state-of-the-art natural resource education center. At that time, the State Commission on Environmental Education stressed the importance of developing natural resource interpretative centers throughout New Jersey. The Pequest Natural Resource Education Center is, and continues to be, an excellent example of a successful center.
One of my first tasks at Pequest was to develop the visitor experience and create a set of interpretative exhibits that were more than the traditional “nature trivia.” A key component of the education programs at Pequest was—and still is—to help visitors understand their role in the conservation of our fish and wildlife resources. The exhibits were designed to have visitors develop an awareness of natural resources, the good and bad impacts our actions have on fish and wildlife and the important role we all play collectively in the wise use and management of our natural world.
Developing such an ambitious education program and raising the quality trout New Jersey’s anglers have come to expect from Pequest can be quite challenging. However, Fish and Wildlife is fortunate to have a dedicated group of professionals managing this resource. In addition, as with many successful programs, we are also extremely fortunate to have an equally dedicated group of fish and wildlife volunteers to assist our agency. More than 1,400 individuals are now recognized as part of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Conservation Corps, the largest volunteer force for a natural resource group in the state. This dedicated group of volunteers has been instrumental in the success of the operations of the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center.
On the trout production end, these volunteers assist in distributing trout throughout the entire state. The education center couldn’t operate without volunteer assistance. Each year they contribute thousands of hours of time and help Fish and Wildlife to staff the visitor center and to provide instruction to thousands of kids at the fishing education pond and during special events such as the annual open house.
I am very proud to have worked with the professionals and volunteers who helped to make the Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center one of the best facilities in the nation. As we look to the future, know that you are in good hands as the staff and volunteers at this facility are just as dedicated today as those who came before them.
Please join us at Pequest this year for the March Open House to celebrate this shining example of fish and wildlife resource management and outdoor education that is thriving thanks to 30 years of support from hunters and anglers like you.
Dave Chanda is the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.