Fish hatchery gets $47,000 grant for education

Local News

The Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery has been awarded a $47,368 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for educational signage to preserve and interpret the history of the Fairport Fish Hatchery.

A major objective of the signage project is to convey the important interdependent relationship between the Fairport Fish Hatchery, Mississippi River mussels, and the pearl button industry, which dominated Muscatine from the 1890s to the early 1930s, a news release says.

The hatchery was established by Congress in 1908 as the Fairport Federal Biologic Station to investigate mussel propagation in the Mississippi River to build sustainability for the pearl button industry. The original laboratory building was opened in 1914 along with a small village of cottages to house staff and visiting dignitaries.

The signage also will focus on the various human impacts that precipitated the decline of mussels from the river. An important aspect of the proposed signs is the use of QR Codes, which will allow students and other visitors to access additional background information online through their cell phones, the release says.

The goal of the project is to educate students of all ages on-site and virtually – and to promote ecotourism to Muscatine County. 

The Conservation Education Program (CEP) is a key provision of the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Act of 1989.

In addition to the grant funding, another $40,144 of in-kind goods and services are available from various volunteers to support the educational project. 

The Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery is a volunteer organization formed last year as an adjunct of the Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission. 

The Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery meeting

A Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery REAP CEP Grant kickoff meeting will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the Muscatine County Administration Building, 414 E. 3rd St., Muscatine.  

Sandy Stevens, president of Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery, has invited representatives of the DNR, county government, Friends representatives, project team members and other interested people.

Jim Elias, of Sunrise Galleries in Muscatine, will present a preliminary look at the proposed signage and use of QR Codes.

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