Earlier this year, the NSRWA ran F.I.S.H. School as part of our Youth CAT program (Climate Action Toolkit for Youth) at Marshfield’s Governor Winslow Elementary School that engaged more than two hundred students in science education. NSRWA’s Youth CAT program and its modules, FISH School and GROW Native, are made possible by generous support from Battelle, a global research and development organization. Standing for Fostering Innovative Science through Herring counts in Schools, F.I.S.H. School brings the river to the classroom. This interactive hands-on program engages youth of all ages and backgrounds in activities that are designed to get students thinking about watersheds, life cycles, river herring, our impacts on local waterways, and how we can help preserve and protect our water and the ecosystems they make up.

The NSRWA runs its Youth CAT program, whether the F.I.S.H. School or Grow Native module, throughout the year in schools across the South Shore, serving more than 1,500 students annually. This particular program in Marshfield was especially memorable for Brian Taylor, NSRWA’s educator, and the students. After the program was brought into several classrooms the students departed for lunch and outdoor recess. An osprey happened to be flying above the playground during their time outside. Just as the students began noticing the large bird of prey, it dropped a half eaten fish directly in the middle of the students playing in the school grounds.

Many of the students began running and screaming, however, what could have been a chaotic occurrence quickly became a wonderful teachable moment. No sooner had the fish fallen, the students who had just participated in NSRWA’s program began teaching the other students that this fish is a river herring and this is all part of the natural food web. Some were overheard saying that “this is a good thing, this is why we need herring in our rivers, they are a keystone species.” In that way, the NSRWA’s lesson continued into recess.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” said Principal Karen Hubbard to NSRWA Educator Brian Taylor. The fun and interactive program combined with the excitement of the students becoming educators will further make this a memorable day for the young people of Marshfield. Our hopes are that these students, as well as the many other students that participate in NSRWA’s programs, will continue to be excited and engaged in the natural world. And thus more likely to want to preserve and protect these things in our environment and communities that are important to us.

Contact Brian Taylor at if you are an educator or an administrator at a local school and are interested in this program for your students.