Award-Winning Educator Announces Spring-Summer Programs

New York Sea Grant (NYSG) Great Lakes Coastal Extension Specialist Helen Domske, recently named “Public Servant of the Year” by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (ECFSC), will help coordinate a State of Lake Erie meeting next month and lead a Lake Ontario teacher training workshop in late July.”I’ve found working with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs to be rewarding and enjoyable,” says Domske. “The representatives of the Federation are some of the most dedicated stakeholders in New York. They have great knowledge of and concern for the environment and are always interested in expanding their knowledge base with scientific information. I am proud to have been given this award by anglers who love the Great Lakes as much as I do.” As NYSG’s Coastal Education Specialist and the Associate Director of the Great Lakes Program, Domske has worked first with retired Assemblyman Dick Smith and current Assemblyman Jack Quinn for many years to coordinate the State of the Lake Erie meetings, bringing in many quality speakers to help Lake Erie anglers keep up with current events. Domske will receive her award from the Federation at the 2010 State of the Lake meeting on May 6 from 7-9 pm at Armor Fire Hall, 4932 Clark Street in Hamburg, NY.”The “State of the Lake” is one of the most important programs in the state concerning the continued well being of Lake Erie,” says Assemblyman Quinn. “Each year, it brings a variety of stakeholders, from anglers to biologists, under one roof for up-to-date reports on ecological information, current initiatives, and future plans. This event could never have been or continue to be such a great success without the commitment and effort of New York State Sea Grant and Helen Domske.”“Helen has always brought important Great Lakes fisheries and invasive species issues and concerns to the attention of our representatives and the anglers of Erie County and Western New York,” says Paul Stoos, ECFSC Second Vice-President. Domske’s published work – papers and conference proceedings on Great Lakes botulism, invasive species, and other concerns – is also recognized by the angler group. “In 2009, Helen was instrumental in helping our Erie County Federation to get a meeting with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation managers to openly discuss the Lake Erie and Niagara River transport of baitfish,” adds Stoos. Baitfish regulations in the Great Lakes tightened in 2007 to help prevent the further spread of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a fish disease affecting yellow perch, muskellunge, round gobies, smallmouth bass and other species. Under these new regulations, anglers cannot transport uncertified baitfish from the Niagara River to other areas of Lake Erie. This has led anglers, up to this point unsuccessfully, to find alternatives for emerald shiner, the predominant food and baitfish used to catch yellow perch. In addition, the supply of live certified bait from other areas is rather limited, expensive and, most times, not even available. This summer, Domske will serve another valued user group, New York State teachers. She will embark on a six-day Lake Ontario workshop from July 25-30 with more than a dozen 4th-10th grade teachers and non-formal educators to work with scientists on field studies and explore classroom activities relating to the Great Lakes and ocean sciences.

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