Fishing Education

Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Freshwater Fishing

More Than Just Fishing with the Aquatic Resource Education Program

By Kimberly Sullivan, Aquatic Resource Education Coordinator

In 1984, the Wallop-Breaux Amendment to the Dingell Johnson Act incorporated the Aquatic Resource Education program into the Sportfish Restoration Fund. The Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program was designed to ‘enhance the publics knowledge of their aquatic resources to preserve and sustain the waters for sportfish species. Anglers wanted the public at large to understand the importance of our waters, not just the fishing community. To provide the largest impact on the entire population, Rhode Island’s Aquatic resource Education program decided to offer more than just fishing programs. Along with teaching safe and responsible fishing and both freshwater and marine ecology programming, Rhode Island ARE program also became the State Coordinators for the emerging Project WILD curricula. By providing this training to teachers across Rhode Island, the ARE program was able to have direct contact to teachers across the state and they, in turn, have a direct connection to the students. This allowed the ARE program to create awareness of our fish and wildlife resources while providing teachers with a meaningful curricula easily integrated into the classroom. Now, over 30 years later, the ARE program still coordinates the Project WILD training plus a whole lot more!

Rhode Island teachers are constantly bombarded with acronyms such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), to name only a few. With the push for technology being incorporated into the schools as well as home, both teachers and students are further removed from their natural world. What if they could learn both about science, technology AND the environment?

Currently, the ARE program has been the State Coordinator for nationally and internationally recognized environmental curricula such as Project WET, WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands, Project WILD, Aquatic WILD and Growing Up WILD. These award-winning curricula allow teachers from pre-school thru high school to teach fulfill state educational standards while learning about their natural environment. Most recently, the ARE program added the Project WET pre-school curricula, Getting Little Feet Wet to the list of available teacher training opportunities. These curricula are already correlated to STEM, NGSS, and Core Curricula Standards. The early childhood guides are correlated to NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) criteria and Head Start Domains.

The ARE program is responsible for not only training teachers but also facilitators in the following environmental curricula:

Project WILD/ Aquatic WILD

Project WILD is a multi-disciplinary curricula designed to explore environmental issues and present them in a comprehensive form to be used in schools k-12. The goal of Project WILD is to bring students from awareness to action by teaching students ‘HOW to think not WHAT to think.’ Each activity comes with background information and various ways to adapt the activity to each grade level. The curriculum is correlated to NGSS, STEM, and Core standards. The curricula is undergoing a revision which will be available in 2018 and will include more field investigations and updated, relevant topics.

Aquatic WILD is a supplement that encompasses solely water related issues using the same format as Project WILD. The guide was recently revised in 2013 and includes numerous field investigations, WILD work sections to explore various career paths, and STEM connections within each activity. Aquatic WILD is also correlated to Core standards, NGSS, and STEM.

Growing Up Wild

An off-shoot of Project WILD, this curriculum was designed specifically for pre-school aged children. With easy, comprehensive activities, young children can connect with their natural environment at an early age. The curriculum fuses all forms of early communication such as art, music, and hands-on exploration to convey the importance of our natural resources to ages 3-6. The curricula is correlated to NAEYC and Head Start Domains.

Project WET

The Project WET curriculum explores everything water-related, from a water molecule to water resource management. The guide itself is designed for ages k-12 but many of the activities focus on the upper-elementary, middle and high school classroom. The Project WET 2.0 guide actually comes with a code that accesses the Project Wet Portal, an excellent supplementary resource for teachers. The curricula is correlated with NGSS, STEM and Core standards.

Getting Little Feet Wet

In the spring of 2017, The Project Wet Foundation introduced its pre-school supplement for younger learners: Getting Little Feet Wet. The guide features 11 activities, many of them from the Project WET curricula with a focus on pre-school education. The curricula is correlated with NAEYC, NAAEE, k-2 NGSS, and k-12 Core Standards. The ARE program will be offering training to both its facilitators and pre-school teachers in the Spring of 2018.

WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands

WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands was developed in 1995 by Environmental Concern, Inc. and the Watercourse. It is a unique curriculum because it fuses classroom activities to outdoor field work. The curriculum is designed for k-12 and begins each activity with background information. The extensions to each activity literally bring the children out into the natural environment and aid in creating stewards to their natural resources. Training consists of 3 hours of classroom time and 3 hours in the field, learning how to take samples and identify different organisms using simple tools. The curriculum is presented to each individual once both sections of the teacher training have been completed.


In Rhode Island, all of the above-mentioned curricula are provided free of charge courtesy of the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Resource Education. A six (6) – hour training is required to obtain each of the following curricula: Project WILD/Aquatic WILD (often offered together in one workshop), Project WET, and WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands. For the Pre-school guides, Growing Up WILD and Getting Little Feet Wet, a 3.5 hour workshop is required for each.

Workshops are offered through the ARE program and other approved non-profit facilitators such as the Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Westerly Land Trust, Providence Parks, Narragansett Bay National Estuary Research Reserve, and many others. Please note that a minimal fee may be required when taking a teacher workshop from one of our facilitator groups due to material and venue costs.


If you are interested in any or all of these teacher trainings, please contact Kimberly Sullivan at kimberly.sullivan@dem.ri.gov or 401-539-0019. Watch our website for upcoming workshops, dem.ri.gov, or like our Facebook page: Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education.