Tag Archives: assabet river national wildlife refuge

Hunting & Fishing Courses at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

“I’ve always been interested in learning to hunt, but never found the time due to many other interests,” says Stephen DeFlorio. Luckily, the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, Massachusetts, has partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or MassWildlife to offer year-round introductory classes to novice hunters and anglers. Inspired by his son who participates in hunting, DeFlorio thought the basic education course would be a great opportunity to learn tools and techniques from seasoned outdoorsmen and women.

Last summer, in addition to hunter education courses, novice anglers had the opportunity to pick up a rod and reel for the first time. Participants learned how to bait a hook, cast and reel, and how to remove a fish from the hook during the children’s fishing clinic for youth under 18, and through the introduction to fishing course for adults. “Seeing the excitement that fishing brings to new anglers every year is what I enjoy most about teaching these classes,” says Jim Lagacy, MassWildlife Angler Education Program Coordinator.

Later in the year, participants in the winter beginner fly tying course were hoping to enhance their skills and become more independent in learning how to tie their own flies, like husband and wife team Van and Krista Berube who were preparing for a fly-fishing trip to Montana. Fishing since she was a young adult, Krista finds fishing to be a fun and relaxing wildlife-dependent activity, but felt she never had the time to learn new angling skills. With course length ranging from afternoon clinics to multi-day classes, there is opportunity for everyone to learn new angling skills.

These classes also foster an appreciation for the natural world and national wildlife refuges. “The more people that are involved in any outside activity, the more likely they are to support efforts to preserve the space and resources needed to continue their outdoor activities, like fishing,” says Van Berube. MassWildlife’s Jim Lagacy adds, “if you enjoy fishing, you’ll learn to respect the resource…and appreciate the outdoors.”

“Partnering with MassWildlife on programs related to fishing and hunter education makes perfect sense, since they have long-established programs and the dedicated resources to implement them,” says Refuge Manager Tom Eagle. “By offering the Refuge as a location to hold these classes, we can educate participants about the Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the many outdoor recreational opportunities that we offer on the refuges in their neighborhoods.” Hunting and fishing are only two of the refuge’s “Big Six” wildlife dependent recreational opportunities, the other four being wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and environmental interpretation.

For more information on beginner hunting and angling courses offered at Assabet River NWR, click here for hunting and here for fishing.

For more information on the “Big Six” at Assabet River NWR, click here.

Biking for Butterflies

What’s a Butterbike? Today we find out from Wildlife Specialist, Jared Green, at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. 

Monarch butterfly populations have been on the decline in recent years, which inspired one young naturalist to go on a 10,000-mile bike ride along their migration route to bring awareness to their plight. Despite being one of the most recognizable wildlife species in North America, monarchs have not been immune to the pressures of habitat loss and fragmentation. Naturalist Sara Dykman teamed up with Beyond a Book, an adventure-linked education project that uses the experiences of real life adventurers to engage students, to document the monarch’s annual multi-generational migration from Mexico to Canada and back again for her Butterbike Project.

Sara began her journey alongside the monarchs in March in Zitácuaro, Mexico, then spending the next four months bicycling north through the Midwestern United States and into Canada, before dropping back down into the Northeastern U.S. Along the way, she has made many stops to educate the local communities about their importance along the monarch migration route. Popular with children and schools, she hopes to inspire to community members to plant milkweed, which serves as the only host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars, and other native nectar plants in their backyards and community parks.

Sara made one of her many stops at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, Massachusetts, to inform local residents of the impressive migration that monarchs undertake each year and the threats they are facing. She gave a presentation to several children that were part of a youth summer camp overseen by Massachusetts Audubon. After showing the children pictures from her trip, she guided them through the Refuge’s pollinator garden, pointing out several monarch butterfly caterpillars on milkweed plants. Later that afternoon, members of the general public were treated to a similar presentation and pollinator walk outside the visitor center.

Sara is currently outside Buffalo, New York and she anticipates finishing her round-trip journey to Mexico in December. Click here to follow her progress on the Butterbike blog.

What working in Visitor Services means to me

by Wilson Andres Acuña

Wilson is wrapping up his summer as an intern at the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. One of six interns co-advised by the U.S. Fish and

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Wilson & a damselfly

Wildlife Service and the Hispanic Access Foundation, Wilson planned and executed environmental education programs throughout the summer. His bilingual English and Spanish programs focused on birding (a passion of his) as well as local history, making Refuge activities more accessible to the Eastern Massachusetts Latino community. Wilson reflects on his experience in visitor services below.

Guess what these things have in common:

  • A grand opening event for a new building
  • Construction of a wheel-chair accessible trail
  • Coordinating volunteers
  • A series of weekly birding walks

Answer: They’re just a few of the many different activities and projects I was able to participate in during my time as a visitor services intern at the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. What does a visitor services employee do? That is a question that I often had to answer whenever someone asked me what I do for work. I would usually respond with something along the lines of “a little bit of everything.” Although there is some truth to that statement, there is a lot more to it! I found that it was necessary to take a closer look at the work I did in order to come up with a more satisfactory answer.

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Wilson keeps things tidy about the refuge & helps out with some of our routine maintenance work.

In my experience, working in visitor services means sharing my knowledge and love of nature with our visitors, many of whom are visiting the refuge for the first time. It means helping a 14-year-old girl see a pileated woodpecker — the # 1 species on her bird-sighting wish list. Speaking Spanish (much to the delight of our Latino visitors), creating a welcoming environment, and answering questions. It means building a nature trail accessible to people of all abilities. Finally, I make sure that visitor areas are tidy and information kiosks are up-to-date and fully stocked with maps and educational materials.

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Leading a Latino family of four on a Spanish-language tour of a historical bunker located on Refuge property.

More than anything, I’ve left work every day knowing I did my part to put a smile on our visitors’ faces and encourage them to come and visit us again.

Stay tuned for the next couple weeks as more of our interns reflect on their summers in the National Wildlife Refuge System across the Northeast.