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KYSCI Joins MuhlenbergAg Students & KDFWR To Build Fish Habitat

Ag Teacher Scott Cronin Is Graduate Of SCI’s AWLS

In collaboration with KDFWR, KYSCI and other sponsors, Muhlenberg County High School students in the agriculture program were able to enhance the fish habitat at Lake Malone State Park. Students spent their time on Earth Day, April 22, not only helping build and deploy fish structures but also learning about career opportunities with KDFWR and more.

After building and deploying the fish structures, all participants and guest were treated to a meal sponsored by KYSCI. After the meal, students had the opportunity to learn from both expert and practical guest speakers about the economic impacts of public land use, hunting, fishing, non-consumptive outdoor recreation activities, and tourism as well as a well delivered/well received explanation about KYSCI by Larry Richards. It was apparent by the respect shown to all that the students who are part of the Forestry, Wildlife Resources, Agriculture Employability, and Animal Science classes taught by Scott Cronin were very appreciative of such collaboration efforts.

Scott Cronin, whom KYSCI selected and sponsored to attend SCI’s American Wilderness Leadership School during the summer of 2019, is a Shining Star example of what AWLS is all about!! Scott, an Agriculture Teacher at Muhlenberg County High School and a Murray State University Associate Professor at Racer Academy, is a teacher extraordinaire! My assessment of Scott was apparently shared by the folks at AWLS as they asked Scott to return to AWLS as an instructor! Scott’s extensive planning and coordination with KDFWR on this Fish Habitat Improvement Project was evident, and watching his students participate in this special Earth Day event throughout the day was pure delight! They were attentive, eager, respectful, happy students!


Like all other animals, fish need suitable habitat for living in, raising their young and foraging for food. Most of the lakes in Kentucky were created more than 50 years ago and are starting to show their age. Natural processes like sedimentation and decay of woody structure can reduce the number of places that fish have for spawning and nursery habitat. KDFWR has active projects across the Commonwealth designed to improve, enhance and replace this habitat that has been lost due to time. This lack of habitat also creates an opportunity for anglers. The old adage "build it and they will come" applies to fish habitat as well. By building habitat structures in frequently fished areas, we can draw in fish from areas with poor habitat and make fishing a little less of a hit and miss process. Deciding where to fish on lakes can be a daunting task for first-time anglers. That is another reason KDFWR creates fish attractors and provides maps to help people find these hotspots of fish activity.

The fish habitat/attractors are made in a variety of shapes and sizes and include material from trees, rocks, logs, wooden pallets, and even commercially made plastic structures. These structures are typically dense in nature with tree limbs and shade producing cover. Rock piles and gravel beds create spawning grounds for many species and brush piles provide much needed shelter for young fishes. All of these structures also provide stable substrates for the attachment of aquatic plants that provide the basis of the food chain in lakes. In general, more habitat just means more fish…(from KDFWR Website)


The goal of this fish habitat project was to complete five fish habitat sites by building four plastic fish attractor structures which would be placed around one dense Christmas tree brush pile for each of the five habitat sites in nearby Lake Malone.

Scott and his students began by collecting discarded Christmas trees and storing them for the project. They then secured donors and sponsors to buy the supplies necessary to complete their project. Scott collaborated closely with KDFWR’s Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Shiflet and Officer Scott Mcintosh who had everything ready when the students arrived at the designated Lake Malone Boat Dock. In addition to these gentlemen, other KDFWR Officers were present to provide safety measures while on the lake and to assist when needed.

The plastic habitat structures similar to the commercially built ones were built by the students in the parking area then carried to the shore for attachment to weights and transport to the site by boat. The tree structures were likewise built by the students and attached to weights which were transported to the boat by tractor lift. The special KDFWR boat was well equipped for the students to deploy the structures into place.

Some 60 persons participated in the day’s event and a special thank you was given to all who helped by Scott and his students! Representative of all of Scott’s students was one young gentleman who on the way back to shore offered an unsolicited smile and thank you handshake to KDFWR Biologist Jeremy Shiflet!


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