Why Join NANFA?
Posted 11 August 2010 - 06:38 PM
I wrote this 3 or 4 weeks ago while several intense and ongoing issues were being debated. I was sending it to a friend today and reread it and think it is appropiate to post it now. When first writing this response i held off sharing it with the forum to prevent fanning the flames but it offers a postitive message and one we should all consider to make NANFA better. We have a lot of longtime NANFA members still on this forum, recent BoD and members that just started with the forum 4 or so years ago and visitors and users who are now considering joining.
This post starts as a response to Donkey's stating he was probably going to join NANFA this fall.
Well Donkey... after a year and 287 posts i would certainly hope you would contribute to NANFA financially. You have certainly benefitted and have so by your own account. Being a dues paying member will not only help NANFA financially and its good works but also put an issue of American Currents in your mailbox 4 times a year and offer even more options to expand your activity. There is a lot of interesting experiences with this native fishy behavior we share.
recently i have found the activity on the forum trying. Excessive, rambling, disorganized, bad english, unedited posts and obviously private personal messages that should be PMed, are often forever eternally posted by non dues paying "guests". These free non member posters have at times exhibited attitudes not in line with our organizations mission statement, and have cast a bad light on NANFA, and this is unfortunately well noted by the ever watchful, lurking DNR agents. I am somewhat glad to see a few have finally decided to contribute the quaint value of one night's cheap dinner for 2 or one week's iphone bill for the use of the NANFA forum, its member's extensive knowledge, and the efforts of our nonpaid volunteers and staff who have to deal with these problematic issues. Personally i would close the forum to all postings and pics from non dues paying forum visitors except for maybe a visitor's section, it would certainly resolve a lot of these ongoing problems. But Drew, Dustin and Uland are the origins and creators of this forum, and tho it was orginally non aligned with NANFA, this free "public" forum now represents our NANFA organization officially, for good and bad, as i know they are well aware of, and the ongoing consequences. Yes i am protective and concerned for NANFA, as i have a long history with it. I have watched it grow and develop for many years positivily but have had several intense concerns these last couple of years.
I was also disturbed by the recent posting from Skipjack regarding American Currents as strictly sub par bathroom material. As a contributing writer i take that personal as im sure Chris, Brian, staff and all those who are contributing to it do, especially after its near collapse about a year ago. American Currents is what has bound the membership together historically and i would have expected a lot better from Matt DelaVega / Skipjack regarding that. Im disappointed in his statement to say the least, and also that no one else seemed to comment on his attitude is troubling. Then again very few dues paying NANFA members are on this forum, maybe 100 are registered, and only 25 or so are active posters. That is 1/20th of the dues paying membership. Being only about 500 members strong American Currents does not have the resources to print color, cover to cover like TFH or Aquarium Fishes magazines which are full of filter, filler and fish food ads, but how often do other magazines have an article on our Natives? I have always looked forward to receiving my AC. I proudly commend Chris and Brian's efforts and hope Matt reconsiders his negative statement.
So thumb me up or thumb me down, but following is why i like and have supported NANFA historically, as Donkey first asked...
Probably about 1995, i was dragging a net behind a canoe and came up with a Redline Darter. So beautiful, amazed i eventually IDed it from the severely lacking Audubon Field Guide. About that time the internet was opening up and a NANFA member named Mike Whitfield responded to one of my questions on a pet sub sub catagory on a AOL users forum titled "Native Fish". I had stumbled across that term when i found John Quinn's book while randomly walking the local library's aisles, reading it cover to cover several times til it was way overdue, but a nickel a day is cheap enough. Mike told me about NANFA and i immediately signed up. I ordered back issues and read adventurous stories from the likes of Konrad Schmidt which inspired me with his attitude, will and adventure.
Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium was built about then and it was the first aquarium to really focus on native freshwater species, from the trickle of Appalachian mountain streams down to the river and reservoirs of the Tennessee and north into the Ohio and mighty Mississippi and its backwaters, oxbows and swamps and eventually south down into the Gulf of Mexico. Pretty cool, amazing fish i never dreamed of existing in our waters. Paddlefish? Sturgeon. Giant Alligator Gar! Wow. I never new such river monsters lurked below.
I had learned to scuba dive a couple years prior but landlocked Tennessee presented little scuba options, however the Aquarium offered a snorkeling trip to the Conasauga River. Snorkeling? A river? Well that day's experience blew me away forever! Beautiful summer day, crystal clear water. I saw more life in that one day than i had in years of sitting under hickory nut trees waiting for squirrels with my 4-10. All kinds of fish, big and small, fast and darting, shiney silver and every color of the rainbow. Turtles, gar, pollywogs, snakes, muskrats, salamanders, tiny snails and clams with hellgrammit lures, all kinds of life compressed into a cooling mountain stream on a hot summer day. The perfect summertime recreation.
I got my issues of American Currents and started calling people, regional reps, writers of stories i enjoyed, and the current president who lived on the far end of the Florida panhandle. I found more places to jump in the cool, clear water. I began to take my snorkel mask everywhere i traveled and found that Gazateers would show me springs and headwaters and the backroads to get there. I graduated from cutoff jeans and t-shirts to swim trunks and neoprene shorties purchased cheap from the used sporting goods store and finally pulled on full body wetsuits, hoods and felt sole booties and all the accompaning gear to brave the cold spring waters. The more i saw the more i wanted to know. New books began to appear, first here in Tennessee with David Etnier's "Fishes of Tennessee". Within its multitude of pages i finally saw what a Snail Darter was suppose to look like, not that mis-IDed Banded Sculpin i had netted out of a cold spring run. Color pictures of Tangerines beckoned me back to the Tellico where i had floated down in a tire tube years before with my high school buddies. What kinds of amazingly colored fish had swam beneath us unknowingly?
Et's book was soon followed by Scott Mettee's "Fishes of Alabama" book which not only showed me local species but also fish i was encountering while in the Florida Panhandle, the springs and swamps i was snorkeling and dodging gators in. I learned about Conservation Fisheries and the beautiful Barrens Topminnow they were raising and attended a ichtheology student gathering called Darterfest over in NE Mississippi and while there saw a swarm of twisting lampreys moving stones in a local creek run. I read about pulsing orange orbs of spawning Tennessee Shiners and determined i wanted to see that in this lifetime. I was told of Dr. Roston and saw his amazing photos and began to correspond with him asking him where to go and when.
Yea, NANFA and American Currents was at the core of it. Introducing friendships, adventures, new species, spawnings and bizarre fish behavior and all endlessly fascinating. Egg mimics, color shifting chameleon qualities, eggs placed in neat rows while upside down and thrashing orgasmicly. New fish, Bowfins, worthless trashfish to the common fisherman, but intelligent, prehistoric protective parents to their spawn and me.
The internet was getting more active and an email posting system was setup for NANFA members to communicate. We shared stories and experiences. Planned trips, traded fish. A mention was made of a desire to have a national gathering in St. Louis but it fell through. I quietly mentioned Chattanooga as a possibility and some of the members liked the idea and urged me on. After a few phone calls, some positive feedback, and quick planning we enjoyed David Etnier, Scott Mettee, Pat and JR from CFI and TVA's Ed Scott telling us big and small fish tales while our eyes were wide and our ears attentive. That was 1998 at the Tennessee Aquarium and a behind the scenes tour was given freely to our small group of 20 or so. Peter Unmack wrapped up the day teasing us about the Ash Meadows desert fishes and his invasive species stomping sessions. Soon Peter will be hosting an "opportunity of a lifetime" to NANFA members, an experience exploring the desert, its fishes, springs and all the other life that Nevada offers. A visit to Death Valley, Ash Meadow's many springs, Hoover Dam clear water tribs, the Valley of Fire, and Nevadan desert springs and distant oasis waters. NANFA Convention 2010 October. Fly into Vegas, head out into the desert for 1 week.
Back in Chattanooga and after our talks and a torrential rain, David Etnier and Ed Scott lead us the following day to the Conasauga where we pulled up all manner of fish. I will never forget David looking at me as he climbed up on a jam of twisted limbs and said "I bet there is a Shadow Bass in here". Sure enough with our seine we pulled out a big red eyed golden camoed sunfish. I too have learned to predict what species are where and when. We saw pretty Blue Shiners, glowing Rainbow Shiners, kissed Hogsuckers and seined up the biggest Studfish David had ever seen. It was a blast. All day long. Our Chris Scharpf, editor of American Currents, meet his future wife there, Stephanie from the Tennessee Aquarium. I first met Ed there, Etnier insisting i have little Eddie talk about TVA and the Snail Darters, Bay Mountain naturalist Ranger Bob and Betsy, our very own cajun family BG and Bessie Granier, Aussie Peter, and Steve Fraley who i will soon be snorkeling with in the minimal flow Cheoah. Elmer drove down from Indiana and then hosted the next convention in 1999 with Larry Page as our featured speaker, organizer and guide. Most of everyone i met those few days are still friends today and many are active with me in the water now. Phil Nixon, NANFA's auctioneer, came down that year and i think has been to every convention since and i fine guy to adventure with.
Yeah, you should join NANFA.
That's a bit of why i like NANFA and what it means to me. That is why i have contributed my efforts to its betterment, and have for years now. That is why i donate and do the t-shirts, graphics and organize group trips to my home state and down into Tates Hell. Thats why i have helped with nearly every convention. I have given a lot and i have received a lot in friends and knowledge and good times. The leadership even made me a Fish Fellow.
If you want to make NANFA better. Contribute. Help. Be active. Give. Understand. Participate. Donate. Write. Get involved. Buy a T-Shirt. Wear it. Promote NANFA. Attend Conventions. Organize outings. Contribute again and again and again.
Dont be a user a taker a whiner a complainer a parasite. This organization has a history of success. Honor it. Continue it. Get involved in a positive way. Be a financial and active contributing NANFA member. Make NANFA a better organization.
Posted 11 August 2010 - 07:42 PM
Posted 11 August 2010 - 08:01 PM
Edited by Skipjack, 11 August 2010 - 08:38 PM.
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