Join our Email List!





child's finger pointing to a sturgeon fingerling in a pail

Sturgeon Fest: A child’s perspective

September 30, 2019  |  Topics: Events

Story and photos by Peter Dargatz

Every year, we look to our calendar to see when we get to return to Sturgeon Fest. Today was he day!

Sponsored by the Riveredge Nature Center and located at Milwaukee’s Lakeshore State Park, this event is a way to celebrate urban nature and history while aiming to improve the future of quite an amazing fish species.

When we arrived, our first stop was the sponsor tables. Loaded with nature artifacts, recreation information, and games for the little ones, we made sure to visit each one.

We tried on skunk hats…

fed a duck…

acted out the migration of a sturgeon…

befriended a Butler’s garter snake…

played a pollination game…

and visited many animal friends….

But the most important activity was next: meeting the sturgeon….

First, we completed a sturgeon art project:

The time for our annual “name the sturgeon” had come. We sponsored two sturgeons this year. Embry decided on Freckleface and Pimpletoes.

Oakley enjoyed picking one up, even if only for a split-second. Even little Arden was intrigued:

After saying goodbye to our fish and releasing them into the lake, we went adventuring along the lake shore. Embry went for the rocks…

while Oakley stuck to a few logs….

We had to make a return to the children’s activity area for some kayaking photos…

and another game, which we won. What was the prize? Sturgeon of course!

Oakley felt compelled to check to see if these new sturgeon were swimmers.  They were not:

Nature followed us to the parking lot. We found a beautiful and friendly butterfly:

Plus, the best bumper sticker I may have ever seen:

Based on the silent ride home, I think all three of my naturalists-in-training enjoyed themselves.

We are already looking forward to next year.

For another perspective, go to Sturgeon Fest by Eddee Daniel.

Peter Dargatz is a national board-certified kindergarten teacher at Woodside Elementary in Sussex, Wisconsin. In 2015, he created a nature kindergarten program. His program has grown into an all-school collaboration with Waukesha’s Retzer Nature Center and a district-wide family nature club. He is also the volunteer Tyke Hike coordinator for the Ice Age Trail Alliance and a founding member of the Wisconsin Nature-Based Early Childhood Association. Peter’s own blog, featuring the outdoor adventures of a kindergarten teacher, is Tales from the Trails.