Hopkins students are kicking-off the school district's 2012 summer field biology class with a "Get the Lead Out" service event on July 12.
At the event, community anglers can exchange their lead fishing tackle for a non-toxic lure. The students will be hosting the exchange from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Hopkins High School parking lot at 2400 Lindbergh Drive, Minnetonka.
The plan is to provide "a safe lure per visit," said Scott Stillman, a Hopkins sixth- grade teacher and a summer field biology class organizer. Following the exchange event, Stillman said that Hopkins students and staff will arrange for the safe disposal of the lead tackle at a community hazardous waste collection site.
Each year as part of its curriculum, the summer field biology class includes a community service project based on the year's theme.
Minnesota's Freshwater Fish is the theme of this summer's class. The 95 registered students, who will be entering grades 5-12 in the fall, will spend the day of July 12 learning about fly-fishing equipment, fly rod casting, fly-fishing lures, fly tying and freshwater fish of Minnesota.
Ed Estlow and Brian McKinley, instructors from the Minnesota Fly-Fishers club, and Nick Altringer, a fly-fishing guide with Fitnflyquest, will help teach and organize the fly-casting and tie flying lessons.
"We try to make the class hands on and real world, real life to kids," said Stillman.
In addition to learning about Minnesota fish and fly-fishing, the students will learn about the effects of lead fishing tackle on birds.
Learning about the impact of "lead on raptors was a natural fit" to this year's curriculum said Stillman. Adam Barnett, a Hopkins school staff member and an interpretive naturalist at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, will teach the lesson on the direct impact of lead on birds based on his experience at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's "Let's Get the Lead Out" website, "lead is a toxic metal that, in sufficient quantities, has adverse effects on the nervous and reproductive systems of mammals and birds. Found in most fishing jigs and sinkers, this metal is poisoning wildlife such as loons and eagles."
The MPCA website continues, "when lead fishing sinkers are lost through broken line or other means, birds can inadvertently eat them. Water birds like loons and swans often swallow lead when they scoop up pebbles from the bottom of a lake or river to help grind their food. Eagles ingest lead by eating fish, which have themselves swallowed sinkers."
Alternatives to lead fishing tackle made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, steel and tungsten-nickel alloy are available at retailers and shops.
Four days after the July 12 introductory class, the Hopkins students will travel to Finland, Minn. and spend July 16-20 at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.
In addition to continued learning about Minnesota fish and fly-fishing, students will challenge themselves with climbing rock walls and treetop rope courses, developing canoeing and kayaking skills and competing in competitive orienteering at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.