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U.S.

Fish & Wildlife Service
Neosho National Fish Hatchery Newsletter
September-December 2010

The Neosho National Fish Hatchery Visitor Center is Open!
On December 9th, 2010 the doors to the new visitor center were officially opened. Friends of the fish hatchery group members, volunteers, the Neosho mayor, Senator elect Roy Blunt, state representatives, political representatives and FWS staff joined the hatchery in welcoming the public into our new facility. The tent and patio heaters were in place, floral centerpieces carefully arranged, catered food prepared, and three sheet cakes cut. Over 600 visitors came out on that cold, windy day to celebrate with us. The attendance was a testament to the local support of this small, but dedicated community. The new facility truly showcases the fish that are propagated here. Dating back to 1888, the exhibit hall highlights the rich history of this facility in a way that our previous hatchery building could not. The 2800 gallon aquarium that sits at the center of the exhibit hall invites visitors to crawl under the tank and view the tank through a bubble. While pallid sturgeon yearlings and rainbow trout fingerlings reside in tanks flanking the main aquarium tank, the main tank is a source of pride for the hatchery. This marks the first time we have a place to display an endangered adult pallid sturgeon. Within the main tank swims an eight year old adult female pallid sturgeon previously hatched at Gavins Point NFH, large rainbow trout, and 6+ year old freshwater drum. In addition, it also houses local species such as the channel catfish, largemouth bass, and crayfish. In honor of the grand opening celebration, the hatchery gift shop made limited edition Christmas ornaments. The ornaments have an image of the new visitor center on the front and are stamped with the date of the grand opening. The gift shop, managed and run by the Friends group, is now open Monday-Friday from 10am-3:30pm. Their schedule may change depending on demand. The store sells the wares of local artists such as pottery, art work, weaving, soy wax candles, wood carvings, and digital imaging. The store also sells natural history books, historic books about local interests, and of course, At this Place…A History of Neosho National Fish Hatchery.
Left above: The female adult pallid sturgeon is the star in our main aquarium tank. Left below: The bubble in the main aquarium tank is popular with adults and children. Right: One of the three cakes prepared and served during the grand opening.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service September - December 2010 Visit from LaCrosse Fish Health Center
Kenneth Phillips and Ryan Katona stopped by in November to determine the overall health of our fish. Both men work at Region 3’s LaCrosse Fish Health Center in LaCrosse, WI. In order to maintain a clean hatchery facility, we are visited by staff from our region’s fish health center twice a year. They sample every lot from our rainbow trout production twice a year and all lots from our endangered pallid sturgeon once a year. Above: Ryan Katona processes fish health samples of rainbow trout.

Pallid Sturgeon 2009 Year Class in the River
The last of the 2009 pallid sturgeon yearlings were tagged and stocked by the end of October. As usual, the tagging process was not completed without outside help. We were accompanied by staff from Missouri Department of Conservation’s Blind Pony State Fish Hatchery, Chillicothe Field Station, Shepherd of the Hills State Fish Hatchery, Chesapeake State Fish Hatchery, and Ozark cavefish biologist Blake Stephens from the Neosho Forestry office. It is only because they responded to our last-minute call for help that these yearlings were tagged within two days and stocked by the end of the week. Lead Biologist Jaime Pacheco and Biologist Melissa Cheung stocked yearlings at Ponca State Park and Nebraska City.
Left: Biologist J. Pacheco captures one of the highlights of our job: stocking endangered pallid sturgeon back into the Missouri River. Right: Biologists J. Pacheco and M. Cheung work alongside some of the MDC staff that helped complete the tagging process. Left below: The Friends group set up their booth and many giveaways alongside the hatchery booth.

Beautiful Day for the Fall Festival
The Fall Festival Autumn Harvest took place on October 2nd. Held in the Neosho Square, the center of downtown Neosho, the day allowed hatchery staff and our friends group to engage with local visitors. The friends group caught the attention of passersby by raffling off great prizes such as a recliner, vacuum seal Foodsaver, Crockpot, and coffeemaker. Friends Group musicians played instruments nearby to entertain visitors throughout the day.

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service September - December 2010 Freshwater Drum Harvest
At the beginning of December, we harvested some freshwater drum for the first time in over 4 years. Although Pond 20 is always full of water and freshwater drum are present, we do not raise these fish for large scale propagation. We hold the drum for partners like Missouri State University who use these host fish in their endangered native mussel programs. Dr. Chris Barnhart and his four graduate students took 35 drum back to their lab at Missouri State University (MSU). An interesting side note is that an otolith sample was obtained from one of the smaller drum by an MSU graduate student. The fish was aged at 4 years old and was 155mm. Four large drum were placed in the big aquarium in the new visitor center. These fish are over a foot long (230mm) and are thought to be 6.5 years old based on the original stocking date. (Visit the blog for video of the drum that were caught.)
Top Left: Biologist Jeff Messens nets freshwater drum from pond 20 after the water level was lowered. Bottom Left: An example of one of the larger drum netted that day. Right: A freshwater drum catches a rainbow trout fingerling in the new visitor center aquarium.

Fall PEEP Day
This November, Biologist Melissa Cheung and volunteer Greg Davidson educated over 150 middle school kids about water quality at George Washington Carver National Monument. As a member of the Partnership for Environmental Education Programs or PEEP, Neosho NFH works with seven other local environmental facilities to educate students about science and their local environment.
Left: Set around the pond at Carver National Monument, M. Cheung teaches students about local invertebrates. Right: Students participated in an activity that showed how they could assess water quality in any body of water.

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service September - December 2010 Dedication of Flags
A week before our actual grand opening, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the local Rotary Club formally dedicated flags and the flagpole area, or “Patriotic Courtyard”, to the fish hatchery. Missouri state flags were independently donated by State Representative Kevin Wilson, State Representative Marilyn Ruestman, and by the DAR. The DAR also donated an American flag that flies above the Department of the Interior flag and Missouri state flag. Earl Reynolds, previous Rotary Club president ensured that the hatchery was given the “Patriotic Courtyard” at the main entrance to the new visitor center. He was responsible for designing, landscaping, and securing the funds for the dedicated flag area. Crossland Construction assisted in the project by installing the flagpoles. The contribution to the hatchery is marked with a beautiful plaque.

Additional Outreach Activities
Barnyard Days, a local arts and crafts festival that attracts visitors from nearby Joplin and surrounding smaller towns, was held this October 1-3. This represents the last year the popular festival will be held in the fall. Hatchery staff participated in the event by setting up a booth and educating visitors about our facility. Lead Biologist Jaime Pacheco participated in Career Development Day 2010 at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. The fair was visited by over 750 students. Jaime was on hand to share his experiences, career path, and current employment at Neosho National Fish Hatchery. Hatchery staff made an appearance at the Neosho Christmas Parade. This year’s parade was cold as always and attracted less people than usual. Falling in line at number 78 out of 100+ entries, the hatchery was represented well with a recently acquired Chevy Silverado pulling the distribution unit on a new, freshly painted gooseneck trailer.

For questions or to receive our newsletter regularly, please email melissa_cheung@fws.gov and request to be added to the email list.

Interested in learning more about what we do? Visit our blog at www.NeoshoNFH.blogspot.com 520 E Park Street, Neosho, MO 64850 417-451-0554

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