Engaging Angling Communities with Conservation Messages and Solutions through Artistic Expression and Design

Engaging Angling Communities with Conservation Messages and Solutions through Artistic Expression and Design

Author: Brooke Ryan - Biography

Growing up, I always had a love for the outdoors, especially natural waterways. My father started a company that specializes in river restoration and wetland reconstruction, so it was always easy for me to find a river to catch frogs in. I was fascinated by aquatic and riparian species. When I was ten, my family and I moved to Pennsylvania. I would spend countless hours exploring our new property, which was complete with lakes, rivers, swampy ponds and waterfalls. I learned how to fish, compliments of my grandfather, but slowly it was set aside for other new adventures. Alongside all of my interests in nature, there was always art.

I went on to complete a Bachelors of Fine Art, concentration in painting, which continued to reinforce that one can easily find happiness in the appreciation of small things. To inquire is to have interest, inspiration and motivation to learn. As I continued to further my artistic career and love for science, a shocking discovery was brought to light. My sister had been suffering from a variety of strange symptoms, with no explanation. After years of doctor visits we had found an answer. My sister and I had heavy metal poisoning. This medical issue brought my sister and I to eventually work for an all natural G.R.A.S.S. certified biochemist lab in Cleveland, whose products rid our bodies of numerous heavy metals like mercury, zinc, lead and aluminum. Working in such a place, my love for science was rekindled and started to fuse with my artistic projects. Microscopy and Spectrometers filled my everyday work. I even went back to my old property in Pennsylvania to collect and test a water sample from the river that ran through our property. That sample contained significantly high levels of the same heavy metals that had been poisoning our bodies for years. The water I had played in, showered in and used to cook had been contaminated by an old abandoned strip mine located only a mile or so from our old house. Less than a year after learning that news, I left that company and became part of the Advanced Inquiry Program. When I started my journey with the AIP and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, I knew my starting point would be with water conservation. This was a very broad topic but through research and projects completed through the Advanced Inquiry Program, I was inspired and found the focus of my Master Plan and future work.

Section One, highlights projects completed throughout my AIP journey that educated myself, my audiences and communities on local and global water conservation issues and solutions. Naturally, learning about water quality and how it can be tested came first. Using my previous job experience with spectrometry at a biochemist lab, spectrometers were further research and discussed for their accurateness of identifying foreign material that can be present in water. Next, I wanted to know how water quality, in regards to sediment and contaminants, could affect ecosystems health. This topic was brought about by an annual dreading of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. Later, for a global warming literature review, I wrote about the Earth's oceans and the devastating effects of climate change. This assignment really taught me the skills of approaching different audiences and the importance of always trying to stay positive about seemly helpless environmental issues. The last project in this section highlights many of the previously discussed topics but in a way that is completed specific to the country of Costa Rica. Through the AIP and Earth Expeditions I traveled to and studied in numerous conservation sites across Costa Rica. I knew very little about the country, so I decided to once again research water conservation and try and find a similar overlaying theme between this new ecosystem and the ones I am already studied. A connection was made; freshwater fish.

Section Two, highlights projects that started to successfully integrate my artwork and research together. I created surveys, maps, social media sites, websites, stickers, magnets and shirts that have highlighted environmental issues related to local coldwater fish species targeted by local anglers in the greater Cleveland area. Using this avenue to spread conservation messages and solutions in regards to local cold water fish species allowed me to engage a larger target audience. The first artifact I highlight is my first attempt at integrating art into a community engagement lab. Cleveland Conservation Tee Shirts, allowed for me to learn from my mistakes and approach an environmental topics within an area of interest. There were not extremely definite results but much was learned and then applied to future projects. I then created a participatory map of fishing locations in Cleveland to potentially discover any patterns interest. With an ever growing understanding of sport fish species in Cleveland from the Participatory Map project and the gained knowledge from my Cleveland Conservation Tee Shirts Projects, I created a new Community Engagement Lab; Cleveland Fish Magnet Project. I created four large handmade magnets that represented four different sport fish species alongside an environmental term, which was related to that species. I poled people's responses to these magnets online and in-person. There were interesting results. Overall, people were too easily persuade to vote for the image that they found most aesthetically pleasing instead of which magnet provoked the most learning or interest. The Channel Catfish magnet was the unanimous winner. I took alot away from this project and knew that my methods would need revision in the future. I then created an infographic about Catfish Evolution, after analyzing the data from the Cleveland Fish Magnets Project, that continued to expand my ever growing knowledge of fresh and cold water fish species. One of my favorite classes during my AIP journey was Biomimicry. Biomimicry involves observing natural solutions to everyday problems and using them in a new innovative way to achieve the same effect. I spent some time looking at inspirational natural solutions to problems but found myself overwhelmed. I wanted to stay on track with art and fish conservation but was unsure how to do so. At the time of the assignment, it was summer and drought and climate change filled newspaper headlines. I decided to research different species that can naturally process seawater and wrote a paper that proposed a potential natural desalination concept design. This project successfully used scientific research and design to create a new artistic concept, which even included Tilapia Fish (Oreochromis niloticus).

Section Three, discusses the beginning of Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) specific research. After completing numerous research papers on water conservation topics a niche was slowly being discovered. Completing a participatory map, alongside a survey, led me to targeting anglers of Cleveland and all of its waterways. I had found that there were many different types of fishermen who were all fishing for a variety of motivations. Through this work, I found a new love for local freshwater fish species, specifically Steelhead Trout. This community engagement lab lead me to complete my first infographic on Steelhead Trout population sustainability. The infographic concept was very inspirational to me personally because it allowed and encouraged statistics and research to be presented in a visually pleasing way. After the infographic completion, I knew the only way to pursue a better connection with Cleveland's angling communities and to expand my knowledge was to get out there and really start fishing. A cold day in November 2015 I caught my first Steelhead spin reel fishing off a rock pier on Lake Erie. From that day on, I knew that I had found the topic that I wanted to research during the remainder of Advanced Inquiry Program. I quickly became obsessed with fly fishing in Lake Erie's tributaries. Meeting a variety of new people and finding my place within Cleveland's fishing community allowed me to pursue a project that took me completely out of my comfort zone. In 2015, I established the Chagrin River Trout Club (CRTC). This club was created to connect Cleveland anglers, promote responsible fishing habits and document the beauty of the Steelhead Season on the Chagrin River. The best way to promote and share these thoughts and ideas was through a website. Years prior, I had created a professional artist website. Alongside my steelhead infographic, I had also created an unpublished website that highlighted a collection of conservation based research. At that moment I knew I would have to revamp my live professional website to suit who I was becoming and the new work that I was completing. One of my most recent projects, Rep Our Rivers, was created with my fish magnet project in mind. I wanted to create a professionally produced sticker and evaluate its success. I designed an image alongside a conservation message that would fuse art and science based thinking. I researched cause based or related marketing and devised methods. Overall, my prediction was that more than half of the stickers would be given as a free gift for giving a donation. Results supported my research and previous prediction. All donations were given to Trout Unlimited. Similar to establishing the CRTC, the last artifact in this section was one that took me, once again, out of my comfort zone and redefined my outlook on art. “Chagrin Tailwaters and Riffles” was a short article written for submission to the Drake Magazine. I used knowledge gained within this master plan journey and personal experiences to weave a short story of what it is like to be part of the Steelhead Season here in Cleveland, Ohio. This story seems to be rather representative of my progress through the AIP as well. Catching my first a Steelhead in Lake Erie was like creating an infographic about Steelhead Trout, while actually engaged the Cleveland fly fishing communities with trout conservation stickers created by myself was like landing my first Steelhead on a fly rod. All were important steps in my continuous journey. Just like fly fishing, there is so much more work to be done and knowledge to be gleaned.

Water and Society

Water quality and quantity are extremely important to species survival, especially when they are aquatic. Species richness, species diversity and population sustainability all have direct connection to water, especially when you are speaking about an aquatic species. Water is arguably the most important natural resource that supports life but how do you test water quality? How are aquatic species affected by different levels of contaminants and pollution? How do salt water ecosystems vary from freshwater ecosystems? How is global warming affecting our oceans? This collection of artifacts highlights specific topics in regards to water issues and conservation, which were completed thought my master plan journey to answer some of my previously stated questions. These artifacts are mostly literature reviews used to educate myself and my readers about the basics of water conservation. I knew that if I continued to research a broad topic, like water quality, it would lead me to a niche that I would not be able to stop investigating; cold water fish conservation.

Spectrometry, How it Aids Conservation | March 2015

For the Biology in the Age of Technology class, I chose to write about Spectrometers for my Technology Environmental Stewardship Project (TESP). I learned how to use a spectrometer when I worked for an all natural green biochemist lab. Only knowing how to run tests on samples and compute the data into findings, I knew that I wanted to look into what this technology really does and why it is so accurate.Spectrometers are a very old technology that has continuously been modified and made more accurate through the centuries. The use of spectrometers has been around for decades, even though they have evolved immensely since the discovery of the spectrum by Isaac Newton, nearly 200 years ago (Greenslade, 2012). A UV-VIS spectrometer shines a light source at a diffraction grating which shoots a whole spectrum of wavelengths at a given sample, while a transmitter records diffraction and absorption levels, which is then digitally displayed (How does a spectrometer work?, 2011). After the introduction of the UV-VIS spectrometer they were used commercially because of their ease of handling, size and cost. Today, there are around 40 different types of spectrometers, although the UV-VIS spectrometer is still the most common (Morris, 2001). This instrument is one of the most useful and precise tools used to determine absolute measurements (Greenslade, 2012).

This project led me to inquiries about water contaminants and pollution. During this project there was a debate in Cleveland, Ohio as to what should be done with the dredged waste from the Cuyahoga River. As many Americans know, the Cuyahoga River became infamous because it has caught on fire more than once. Today this river is used for recreational activities and commercial shipping and is annually dredged to continue this activity. As ships pull into the canal to off load their merchandise, sediment gets churned up along with fish. I will never forget the first time I saw this happen. The best way to describe this was to compare it to a human being sucked up into a tornado. As the ship slowly continued to pull in, I saw numerous fish die. I wanted to know more about this occurrence and proceeded to research how sediment can play a role in aquatic ecosystem health. Turbidity and the amount of sediment present in water is important in determining oxygen levels, which is directly related to the survival of the ecosystem in which it is present (Matisoff, 2014). This can be measured by many different types of technologies, ranging from satellites to mobile apps available to smart phones. Another easy solution to prevent erosion and large amounts of stormwater runoff is to plant and conserve forests close to water sources (Kreye, 2014).

This assignment was very inspiring and taught me a lot about technology and natural solutions to reduce water turbidity. I had some previous knowledge on the topic of spectrometry but through research many other doors were opened. My classmates also wrote about many other intriguing technologies like the DIDSON technology. The other assignment for this class was an Ecospot. I created a video about the importance of water quality and posted it to a unpublished website. I had never used Vimeo to publish a video and had never used the audio recording function on PowerPoint. This assignment really started to solidify the thought of using a website as a platform for spreading research, which has become a huge part of my Master Plan.


Sediment, Its Effects on Biodiversity | May 2015

This artifact was created almost as an extension of my previously completed spectrometry paper. Ideas and thoughts of sediment and contaminants filled my head and I wanted to look into themes of bioaccumulation and heavy metal poisoning and how they can affect species. Different levels of water quality can affect biodiversity within an ecosystem. Not all nutrients are good and like most things in life there must be a balance of both good and bad. Water fluctuation levels determine the amount of nutrients released into a water system which may affect system productivity (Steinman, 2014).

Another main topic of this project was heavy metals and bringing light to what they are and how they can affect the environment. Heavy Metals are elements that have high density levels that exhibit metallic qualities which can be discharged into the environment through air, water and soil (Hogan, 2010). The EPA lists five major sediment pollutants: Nutrients, Bulk organics, Halogenated Hydrocarbons or Persistent Organics, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals (Major Contaminants, n.d.). There are countless human and animal examples, all over the world, of effects of contaminants in water and soil.

The use of spectrometers was again brought to light in regards to testing contaminated tissue for specific heavy metals that had bioaccumulated through the food chain (Myers, 2014). This project also discusses ways of cleaning already contaminated sediments. Sediment movement and quality is extremely important to the health of all organisms that live within an ecosystem, which helps support sustainable populations and biodiversity. Having the ability to understand how water and sediment systems work, measuring these systems and devising a solution to the problems that arise on this topic are pertinent to biodiversity. Bioaccumulation is real and is becoming a bigger problem to larger organisms, like humans, as the amounts of pollutants increase on our planet. Creating sustainable ways to control sediment pollution can help limit bioaccumulation in our local and global ecosystems.

This paper continued to increase my understanding of overall water conservation themes. I did however seem to find an interesting connection to bioaccumulation while researching. The idea of an insignificant organism having such a great effect on an entire ecosystem was fascinating to me. This concept roughly brought me to think of this on a grander scale; our oceans.

Global Warming, its Effects on Ocean Acidification | May 2016

Many people all over the world have no real concept of what global warming is or how it is created. Some might throw out the idea of high levels of Carbon Dioxide and its effects on the chemical makeup of the Earth's atmosphere. But how do greenhouse gases affect the chemical makeup of our oceans? For a literature review and book discussion assignment, I chose to discuss the topic of ocean acidification. This assignment in itself was hard because we were asked to give examples of articles written in favor of the issue as well as against.

Choosing the ocean as a topic, I researched ocean acidification. What does that mean? What are the contributors? What are the effects? The ocean has been absorbing naturally occurring carbon dioxide throughout time and making it into a weak form of carbonic acid. But today the ocean is a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide and has absorbed about 48 percent of the CO2 emitted by human activities since the pre-industrial age (Allen, 2009). The ocean absorbs approximately 30% of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by humans (Sabine et al., 2004). The chemistry of the upper oceans will be significantly affected by the increase in anthropogenic CO2 and will have great effect on the marine ecosystems that inhabit these sections of ocean (Hartin, 2015). Even if CO2 emissions were to halt today, the amount of present CO2 would be largely irreversible for 1,000 years (Solomon, 2009).

As humans we were given the ability to understand and measure variables of our natural surroundings. Predictions can be made on the data that we collect. Unfortunately, predictions and models cannot always account for every variable. One single prediction will not hold the key to our future, it is important to look at patterns and trends. If models are all pointing in the same direction then we must brace ourselves for what will eventually come. Observing regions of our oceans that are fragile will help us understand what is really happening and how species are reacting. To be able to find a solution, you must first fully understand the problem.

This assignment opened my eyes to new ideas that I had never thought of before. I am constantly inspired to share this information with acquaintances. This project also was extremely useful because it taught us how to use climate change as a metaphor. If you can visually describe ideas of climate change people are more receptive. Being able to argue your point of view with statistical data and emotional intelligence allows for informative debates and progress. I did however find this topic a little hard to genuinely stay positive about. Anthropogenically created CO2 is causing our oceans to chemically change and affect ecosystems but if you think about small ways that one can decrease their carbon footprint, the topics can actually be rather inspiring.

Water Issues and Conservation in Costa Rica | Summer 2016

I chose to partake in an Earth Expedition summer of 2016 with the AIP. I knew I wanted to write a synthesis paper on a freshwater fish species but could not find enough peer reviewed articles on the Machaca Fish, which inhabits the Lowland Rainforests of Costa Rica or the Rainbow Trout that inhabits the mountainous rivers of the Costa Rican Cloud Forests. Within looking for information of fish species, there were many environmental issues highlighted that were related to water and its conservation. I chose to use this assignment as a way to educate myself on current and past water conservation issues in Costa Rica. This project was unique because the research was conducted and the synthesis paper was written before I ever stepped foot in Costa Rica. It was extremely useful to read past work conducted on Lowland Rainforests and the environmental issues that arise within those ecosystems. Writing this synthesis paper laid a platform of knowledge to begin my new in-field research.

I also found in interesting that correlations between education, in regards to water conservation, have shown a reduced consumption of water, and that education is a key strategy compared to imposed limits (Hoy, 2016). Through education, locals of Costa Rica can learn how to sustain their water quality, quality by potentially implement existing and new water conservation solutions. Maintaining what water is present in Costa Rica is imperative to successfully grow agricultural produce, sustain the habitats that house a plethora of diverse species and improve upon what currently exists. It also has been documented that Costa Ricans do show concern for climate change, water pollution and deforestation.

It has been observed that a need for reform, regarding agricultural and conservation policy, is needed in Costa Rica to encourage landscape heterogeneity and economic diversity (Shaver et al., 2015). Identifying how water quality and quantities fluctuate will help scientists understand what is happening and pinpoint the origins. Learning and measuring specific water levels and qualities that are needed to sustain healthy ecosystems is also key. The first ever nationally representative study was conducted and showed that 85% of Costa Ricans were highly concerned about climate change, while on a local level: 10.5% were concerned with food, 16.1% water, 11.3% poverty and 11.7% heat waves were the most expected to change due to climate change (Vignola , 2013). Climate change models conducted in Costa Rica's tropical wet-dry climate region predict a reduced rainfall and a drier wet season which will change seasonal hydrological cycles, decrease species richness and increase plant species that are more drought tolerant (Osland, 2011).

When I arrived at La Selva Biological Research Station I was overwhelmed with questions and beautiful new ecosystems filled with unique and colorful species. Crossing a 40 foot suspension bridge, that hung over hundreds of visible Machaca fish, was the highlight of every day spent in La Selva. Leading discussions, conducting research and continuous journaling allowed for serious reflection. I was overwhelmed with the amount of water present, which seemed contradictory to some of my research. At time went by, there was a more clear comparison made between water quantity and the availability of quality water.

I had synthesized that Costa Rica is a place where you can find plentiful free wifi but free clean drinking water is scarce. The environmental issues there, like deforestation and pollution, are exacerbated by elevation, climate change and water quality. Areas of the world that exhibit fragility to water issues should be at the forefront of research. If the world can come together and help understand and conserve these areas, we will be able to understand the negative and positive effects created around water quality and quantity.


Local Cold Water Fish Species - Conservation Art

Engaging viewers and provoking action is the main objective that conservation art encompasses. Many are familiar with conservation photography, but there are other forms of art that incorporate these messages, like painting, drawing, map making, digital media and storytelling. For as long as anyone can remember or document, art has always been extremely hard to define. With that said, conservation artwork seems to fall into that grey category as well but is a bit easier to grasp when speaking about conservation. Using any form of art to convey, educate or engage a viewer on any given conservation message, effort or solution seems to be a comprehensible idea even for the general public.

Using my artwork as a tool to spread and engage my audience and local community with conservation messages and solutions was always a top priority. After the completion of a variety of water conservation research topics and then finding a specific love for trout, it was time to begin to fuse art and research. These ideas took some careful consideration and thought. My first project to start the synthesis of research with artistic ability was “Cleveland Fish Magnets”. Many aspects of this project lead to new knowledge gleaned and continued to inspire new projects. Through the creation of new unique projects, I continued to redefine my definition of Conservation Art. Newer projects push those boundaries by incorporating creative writing, storytelling and design.

Cleveland Conservation Tee Shirts | December 2014

For one of my first Community Engagement Labs I chose to look into a product that interesting me with an environmental perspective. At the time of fruition of Cleveland Conservation Tee Shirts, there was a boom of tee shirt companies producing Cleveland themed tee shirts. This project researched local screen printing companies for their use of environmentally friendly materials and material disposal. Tee shirt designs were created, by myself, along with a matching conservation message. The images included: A Steelhead Trout, a pig and a bee. These images were then posted on social media. Viewers were asked to vote for their favorite image and then whether they would want the shirt with image alone or with the image and conservation message. When it came to researching Cleveland screen printing companies, there was an overall winner for environmentally friendly habits. jakPrints was recognized for planting a tree for every order placed and they also boast on their website about their environmentally friendly materials and material disposal. This information became valuable nearly two years later when it came time to produce my “Rep Our Rivers” Stickers (See Section Three).

There were too many variable and I was not provoking my audience in the right way. The inclusion of this project was to more so highlight where I started and how I have grown in regards to methods and community engagement. This project was influential because of the use of the Steelhead image. Aesthetically, I enjoyed this image the most and there was positive feedback from my viewers.

Participatory Map Making and Fish Survey | December 2014

For the Conservation Science and Community class I chose to create a participatory map about fishing habits in Cleveland, Ohio for a Community Engagement Lab. This project consisted of creating a fishing survey, which was disbursed by hand to individuals in Cleveland, Ohio. Many of the surveys were actually filled out by myself as I personally interviewed or discussed fishing topics with my participants.

This project really opened my eyes to simple ways of using visual representations, like maps, and data collection together to create change and an artistic way of documentation. I heard from locals, problems that they have encountered over the years: pollution, species population changes, dam issues etc. I used a map of Cleveland and Lake Erie's tributaries to plot locations of concern and interest, like dams and fishing locations. These interactions with Cleveland's numerous fishing communities was my first real encounter and really began to educate me on what it means to fish in Cleveland.

This project was the catalyst for identifying the Cleveland angling community as my target audience. I knew that there was an endless amount of work to be done with this general community. I also know that there was a specific sub community of fishers that I personally would be able to identify with. This was the first time that fly fishing was brought to my attention as a potential subgroup of anglers. This project directly related and helped build my Master Plan. Creating a map, a form of art, allowed me to document my findings and engage my audience. Creating a survey and conducting interviews really fueled my inquiry on the subject. I did however have a little trouble with having participants pinpoint locations on the map that I was using for the survey. Time constants stopped me from physically creating a large handheld map for my potential survey participants. Happily, I was able to use Google Earth to create a map of fishing locations, trace rivers of interest and locate dams.


Cleveland Fish Magnets | 2015

For a community engagement lab, I chose to create magnets that would provoke and inspiring education about environmental issues facing local fish species. Engaging communities on one specific issue can be hard. Passion and an educated voice are two necessities when attempting to reach your target audience. Not all people learn in the same way and not all people are interested in the same thing. You must know your audience well to be able to properly communicate the message you are trying to convey. With that said, identifying fishermen as a target audience was the first step for my fish magnet project. The second step was also trying to provoke and engage the general public.

Next, four local flagship species were chosen to hook both fisherman and the public, while creating a message that educated and provoked inquiry. The four species were the Steelhead Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Channel Catfish and the Yellow Perch. These are visually distinct fish that are all very popular sport fish in the Cleveland and Great Lakes region. All four species were researched and an environmental term was assignment to read next to the artistic fish representation present on each magnet; Steelhead Trout-Water and Habitat Availability, Smallmouth Bass-Environmental Indicator, Channel Catfish-Bioaccumulation and Yellow Perch-Egg and Larvae Susceptibility. Once the magnets were created they were then strategically placed in fishing areas around Cleveland and photographed. I then presented the photographs and asked my viewers on social media to vote for their favorite magnet and leave an optional comment as to why they chose it. The overall winner was the Channel CatFish Magnet. Unfortunately, it was bace painfully obvious that a majority of my viewers did not read my whole post. Many people simply “liked” my photography posts and did not comment. It was also obvious that many people did not read the whole post because they would comment but just reply about the aesthetics of the image. Some people did read the whole post however some viewers even commented about how they were unfamiliar with some of the terms and had taken the time to research those terms. Overall, there was a significant amount of data to analyse.

Strangely enough the Catfish design was announce the winner, which was my least favorite design. I learned that once again knowing your audience is very important. Using the facebook community, that is limited to my random group of friends, was not an ideal polling location. I also knew that using a limited amount of words was key. This project directly correlated to my Master Plan and allowed me to learn valuable information from my audience as well as my methods.

Infographic- Catfish Evolution | November 2015

When I was asked to complete an infographic on the evolution of a given species, the thought of Catfish was still fresh from my Cleveland Fish Magnets Project. I researched many fish but did not find an overwhelming amount of information on species of interest. Once I looked into Catfish I knew I had found a topic worth investigating. Many classmates chose to discuss species that have had noticeable evolutionary changes but I chose the Catfish because it has existed for quite some time and has managed to stay rather stable when it comes to evolution. This project looks into genetic effects on Catfish when they are raised in hatcheries. I appreciated the similarities in themes of hatcheries in regards to Catfish and Steelhead Trout. (Also, See Steelhead Infographic- Section Three). There was also an interesting find about different species of catfish in different locations of the world that all evolved to eat wood. The Catfish did not last this long on early from being a selective fish.

This project once again strengthened my understanding on infographic presentation and abstract concepts like evolution. I did find it hard to find species specific research so there were examples given about evolutionary topics on multiple species of Catfish. As an infographic, this project was also presented as a subpage on a website and reinforced the idea of using the internet as a tool to spread knowledge.


Biomimicry Design, Its Potential Application for Natural Seawater Desalination | August 2015

For my Ecophysiology: Biomimicry class I was asked to create and write about a new innovative product or idea that follows the ideals of Biomimicry. I had never heard of this term before and was overwhelmed that I had never heard of this idea before. Biomimicry involves learning or emulating a natural process or ecosystem that has found a solution to a problem that has been tested by the environment and refined through evolution (Kennedy, 2015 ). I personally thought that this idea was extremely motivating because monumentally amazing ideas have been observed and transformed into great inventions and ideas from everyday people, like myself. Biomimicry can be applied to solve a plethora of environmental, technical and social issues on any given scale (Kennedy, 2015). With this new concept in hand, I had no idea what I wanted to research. The idea of structure based paint, instead of pigment based, was fascinating but I wanted there to be a more relevant connection to current day problems and my Master Plan. At the time of this project's creation drought and climate change were a hot topic. I wanted to take the avenue of realizing a current issue affecting the united states and try and come up with a biomimicry inspired natural solution. Sea dwelling animals and plants were researched and an all natural desalination design concept was created. This design was modeled after plants and animals found in California and was presented as a potential solution for residential drought issues in that area. Of course, the Tilapia fish (Oreochromis niloticus) were researched for their use in commercial aquaponic farms. For my this freshwater fish seemed to pull the whole design together and once again engage my readers.

This project in itself seemed rather abstract and continued to push my thoughts on overall themes for projects and research papers. This theme has stuck with me ever since it was brought to my attention. Biomimicry once again reiterates that the environmental resources available on planet earth are not a warehouse of items but should be viewed as the ultimate teacher. We have the ability to observe and learn from nature and the ways that they have evolved to solve problems. This project directly relates to my Master Plan because it used the art of design to conceptually orchestrate and unify a plethora of water and fish conservation research topics.

Trout Conservation Artwork - Steelhead Specific

Two main projects completed and previously discussed in section two sent me in the direction of work done specifically about the Cleveland Steelhead or Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Recognizing and engaging the angling Cleveland community for the "Cleveland Fish Magnet" project and the "Participatory Map" project made me aware of just how important Steelhead Trout are to Cleveland. Through the creation of a participatory map, I learned more about who fishes in Cleveland and the different species they target. The Fish Survey, part of the Participatory Map, was the first time I had encountered Steelhead Trout specific research. From that point an infographic was created about the Steelhead Trout and their population sustainability in the United States. Much was learned about Steelhead from this project, but it became apparent that there was much more to learn. I went on to create projects that fused issues surrounding Steelhead Trout and my artwork.

The first was an infographic that highlighted population sustainability of Steelhead Trout. I learned how to integrate statistical findings into a visual representation, like a webpage. This project opened my eyes to a lot of informative research and again opened many inquiries. I went onto create The Chagrin River Trout Club to connect local anglers and promote responsible fishing habits when it comes to targeting Steelhead. This project led me to fuse my already existing professional website into a conservation based artist website that would continue to group steelhead specific research and artwork in one main location. The last two artifacts that are discussed in this section currently appear on my website as well. I continued to push my definition or art and boundaries of artistic projects on trout species. The Rep Our Rivers Sticker Project was the most recently completed and directly applies to my Master Plan. This project focuses on trout conservation art and also ties into an overall theme of conservation and marketing. The last artifact, Chagrin Tailwaters and Riffles pushed my ideas of artwork and taught me just how powerful the art of storytelling can be.

Infographic and Scientific Paper -Steelhead Trout Population Sustainability | May 2015

This project was my first attempt at creating an infographic. I was very excited to research the history and random statistics on this beautiful species. The Steelhead Trout population is a truly fascinating and important part of our planet's ecosystem as a whole. These fish have adapted to many different environmental changes, natural and unnatural, contribute a large monetary value to the sport fishing and tourism industries, and have continued to transport needed nutrients back to their origin of creation (Boehler, 2012). I created a subpage on one of my websites to produce and present the final Steelhead Infographic. Through education and countless research studies, the importance of this species became undeniable to me. One of the most surprising statistics of this project was the actual population of this species. It is extremely hard to accurately count a given aquatic species and there are many different strains of Rainbow Trout all over the world. It is safe to say that no one knows the actual population of Steelhead Trout on the Earth. However, annual stocking records for states within America are very accurate.

Conservation efforts including habitat reconstruction and mitigation, research on hatcheries and release methods, and incorporation of new technology to accurately compute population numbers, are key to a sustainable population of the Steelhead Trout. Continuing conservation efforts must continue to sustain and grow the Steelhead population all over North America. As technology continues to progress, better statistical data can be obtained and better population estimates can be received. Hatcheries must continue to aim their research at genetically diversifying this species as well as trying to figure out why domestically raised fish show weaker natural fitness. There are many factors working against this beautifully fascinating species of fish. The only way this species will be able to sustain its current genetic and physical location is through education and continued conservation efforts.

I learned that Steelhead and Rainbow Trout are really the same fish. There are many different ways of estimating population counts for aquatic species. Hatcheries can be a great tool for trout conservation, if managed correctly. Stocking practices are also very important when it comes to return rate. All of these statistics can easily be read but using visuals, like infographics, can allow for a deeper understanding and amount of intrigue from viewers. I really enjoyed creating an infographic to visually represent all of the research I compiled into a scientific paper. It directly related to my Master Plan because it spoke about trout conservation and also used a simple form of art to represent my statistical finds. If I were to go in and edit this previously made infographic, I would try and add more information about why it is so hard to accurately estimate fish populations.

This subpage of a personal website was created to highlight the population sustainability of Steelhead Trout in The United States.



The Chagrin River Trout Club | April 2016

Mission: To document, conserve, protect and support the coldwater species in the Chagrin River and to promote responsible fishing habits.

The Chagrin River Trout Club was formed as a group to connect anglers of The Chagrin River in Cleveland, Ohio for my Leadership Challenge under my Leadership and Science Inquiry class. I had never thought or attempted to create a group or club. I chose to create a club that would allow anglers of Cleveland to engage each other and allow education on responsible catch and release practices, while spreading messages of conservation efforts through social media and in-person events. I created an Instagram that would highlight and promote the beauty of the Steelhead Season on the Chagrin River: @thechagrinrivertroutclub.

A photography exhibition was scheduled to highlight the beauty of the Steelhead Trout species and its miraculous existence in our backyard river. More importantly, this group and its events have aimed to educate members and audiences with responsible fishing habits to decrease unneeded mortality of this nonnative stocked cold water fish species. New events and merchandise, as well as collaborators, will continue to be incorporated as this group grows.

Getting a specific group of people to convene can sometimes be tricky. Once you know your audience it becomes much easier to connect and implement specific leadership styles; like postive coaching in regards to inquiry and when to implement authoritative strategies. More importantly, understand your audience and knowing how to lead them is extremely crucial. There are many types or styles of leadership: coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic and coaching, but it is having the emotional intelligence to know when to assert these different styles is how your successfully can engage and provoke your target audience (Goleman,1998). Staying positive and advertising on my instagram, facebook and website helped spread the word. The first photography event: Chagrin River Trout Club Daze was successful but did not a huge turnout. I would like to turn this event into an annual photography event and see how 2016-2017's outcome and participation will change. Photographs are constantly posted on the CRTC instagram and merchandise giveaways are planned randomly. Selling new merchandise is also part of future plans to continue to advertise and spread conservation messages.

For the direct website subpage:


For over 5 years I have had a personal and professional artistic website, www.brookelynaesthetic.com. Website design as always come naturally to me and has continued to be a useful resource for me to publicize my artwork and accomplishments. After the completion of projects on the general topic of water conservation, I decided to create another conservation based website, http://brookelynaethetic.wixsite.com/bernconservation. This website consolidated a lot of work that I had previously completed and worked well as a venue for me to present my infographics to my classmates, teachers and the general public. This concept website still exists but is not permanently connected to a live domain name. After some debate, I chose to fuse my scientific work with my professional artistic website.

During the creation and establishment of the Chagrin River Trout Club, I knew I would need a similar website platform to advertise and engage a larger audience. I chose to revamp my personal website to reflect and once again define who I was as a person and present the most current research I was conducting. Brookelynaesthetic.com still functions as a professional artist website but now focuses on a different form of art. Strictly fine art, painting and mixed media, has now morphed into a conservation based artist website. I no longer create strictly traditional and conceptual art, I define myself as a conservation artist or an artistic advocate for trout conservation.

Official Artist Website: www.brookelynaesthetic.com
Conservation Website Concept: http://brookelynaethetic.wixsite.com/bernconservation

Rep Our Rivers | December 2016

For my final project within the AIP program I chose to fuse art and my love for trout species for an Inquiry Action Project. This project proposed the following comparative question: “Do anglers and fishing enthusiasts prefer to purchase fishing merchandise items, like stickers, that display local species of interest alongside a conservation message for an at cost price that gives nothing back to conservation vs. the same item at a competitively priced value that gives a large percentage of the cost back to trout conservation ?"

Creating a trout conservation sticker was a top priority after all of the Steelhead research completed. It has been shown that a higher percentage of attendees participate in science based events when art is also incorporated (Opermanis, 2015). So would Clevelanders be interesting in buying an artistically pleasing sticker for cheap or would they want to donate money for conservation efforts and receive a free sticker? Would bringing art into the theme of trout conservation increase the amount of participants or increase the amount of donations?

I brainstormed a conservation based message and started designing. The final graphic design, used on the stickers, highlights a native genetically distinct species, the Ohio Brook Trout, and the non native Manistee strain of Rainbow Trout. The multi-meaning conservation message “Rep Our Rivers” creates unity between art and science. The project even seemed to come full circle when a local Cleveland screen printing company was chosen for their environmentally friendly material disposal and donation of one tree for every order placed.

Next, to test if potential customers are more interested in purchasing the trout conservation sticker for lower than at cost price or if they would donate and receive a free sticker. The pilot location for advertising was facebook, instagram, personal website and by mouth. The data collected ran from the beginning of October until late November. All stickers received by customers were given as free gifts after donations were made and none of them were bought for a lower than cost price. Results supported research done on cause related marketing and also supported my original prediction.

This project was one of the most successful because of the level or community engagement, knowledge gleaned, a variety of different networking avenues and support shown for trout conservation.


Chagrin Tailwaters and Riffles | April 2016

For the publication assignment for the Professional Media Workshop I originally wanted to write an article that would be published in a local Cleveland newspaper, The Chagrin Valley Times. Spreading knowledge about responsible catch and release habits was a priority, as well as educating the general population on what fish species inhabit their backyard rivers. After further research on publication venues, I new that I wanted to write and submit an article for The Drake Magazine, a quarterly fishing magazine headquartered in Denver, Colorado. There are many fly fishing specific magazines out there today and many are published online as well to reach a larger audience. This magazine highlights short stories on a variety of fishing topics from all over the world. I chose the theme of Tailwaters Weekends and wrote about my first experience with the Spring Steelhead season in Cleveland, Ohio. Below is an excerpt.

“It is true that it takes a special type of person to muster up the motivation to travel around from location to location to assess the water conditions, suit up in all their gear, and navigate miles of Chagrin shale, quicksand, and stone runs to chase the infamous Steelhead. The day I landed my first Steelhead was no exception. I spent hours out in a bright Easter sun on a small tributary of the Chagrin, with a throbbing left ear from an accidental sunburn acquired during a previous fishing excursion on Saint Patrick's Day. That day I was rewarded with two Steelhead. It would be fair to say that those Steelhead and I were both hooked that day.”

I found it extremely challenging to write an article with an 800-1,000 word limit. Using an artistic storytelling technique, I wrote about a personal experience of catching my first Steelhead Trout while painting a picture of what it is like to fly fish in Cleveland's rivers during the Steelhead Season. I learned the importance of connecting to my readers, of projecting a positive message and also the power of conveying your message in the most direct and entertaining way possible. During the 2016 Fall Steelhead Season, I was informed of a female fly fishing Magazine, Dun Magazine, and plan to submit articles in the future.


Conclusion | An Artistic Advocate for Conservation

During the last three years I have become part of many of the Cleveland angling communities. Through a survey, completed a year ago, I have found there are many subcommunities within the general angling communities here in Cleveland. Not only are their sport fishermen on boats, commercial fishermen, pier fishermen, but there are even archery anglers. More specifically, I have completed my newer work with the fly fishing community. Strangely and sadly enough, I have learned that there is no Trout Unlimited Chapter for women or female fly fishing organization in Cleveland, Ohio. I personally would love to change that.

I have increased my local understanding of many angling topics. Within doing so, I have spread this information to my local communities so they have a better understanding of local conservation issues and solutions happening in their watersheds. I have also found that a majority of the general public has no idea that any species of Trout even exist in their watersheds. Engaging local community with artwork, with a science-based conservation message, is a great way to inspire inquiry on the topic and advocate for native and stocked trout species.Through surveys and data collection I have also given my community a voice by supporting their thoughts and spreading their opinions and concerns. All of these projects took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to incorporate positive reinforcement techniques into my leadership strategies to help encourage my audience and avoid miscommunication. Empowering your target audience to speak up is equally rewarding and important as it is for me to do so myself. It takes one person to have a crazy idea, a second to follow and a third to make it a movement. I will continue to synthesis many forms of art in ways that promote trout and water conservation.

Recognizing a specific problem or area of improvement within one's ecosystem is just the start. Through artistic representations of statistical findings and research, engaging and provoking many communities to take action is the goal of my current work. Spreading messages and posing questions inspires individuals and communities to use their own voices and resources to take action. Positive changes must be made to sustain and improve the quality of life for all living organisms on planet Earth and I believe that education is of the utmost importance in achieving that goal. In the future, I plan to continue my work through events planned under the Chagrin River Trout Club, look into potential locations to create a trout conservation mural in the city of Cleveland and organize a current study addressing the present day population sustaibility of the native Ohio Brook Trout.


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