As our world continues to move at a faster and faster pace our youth become more and more fixated on instant gratification. They are becoming people that expect a control pad to instantly reward their repeated tapping with jumps, punches and fireballs or expect a return text on their phone as soon as they hit the send button. Our children are losing the ability to be an individual and think for themselves, to enjoy the warm sun on their faces, and simply notice what wonderful things are happening around them. It is for this reason that the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is working to create the R.O.A.R. program.
R.O.A.R is an incentive program that urges children to go outside and read. Through this process we hope the children will relax and see what is going on around them and learn about the environment and their community. The plan for this project is for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Friends of the Upper Mississippi, La Crosse Parks Department, and the La Crosse Public Libraries to come together and provide outdoor reading locations. Between the various offices and parks eight locations will be designated as R.O.A.R sites and participants must go to these places and read. While there they will be able to receive a mark on a passport or guide book stating that this achievement has been met. Upon completion of reading at all of the sites participants will receive a coupon thanks to a donation through Courtesy Corporation-McDonalds that awards them a free desert at an area restaurant.
The Friends of the Upper Mississippi are also getting involved by equipping some of the R.O.A.R. sites with reading benches. Genoa NFH is looking at installing a few of these benches around the Sense of Wonder Wetland walking path to provide a place to read or simply sit and observe the outdoors. As another bonus the friends are also looking at potentially dedicating these benches to past friends members as a way of remembering their contributions to the organization.
This project is in conjunction with the USFWS’s Connecting People with Nature and the Department of Interior Engaging the Next Generation initiatives. Genoa NFH plans to incorporate outdoor reading into the outdoor classroom and sturgeon in the classroom programs as we strive to connect children with nature.