Fish Make You Smarter

The ultimate purpose of our Program is connecting kids to nature, creating the future stewards of our aquatic resources.

  • The “Written Word’s” are a way for a student to express, in his or her own words, a personal understanding of their chosen state-fish, its habitat, behavior or conservation needs.
  • Not judged by length but by what is said…we want to “hear” the student’s voice.
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place in each grade category (Note: Written Words are NOT required in Grades K-3, but the Awards are selected from those submitted)

Criteria For Judging

  • Should be original in the student’s “own words”
  • Can be in the form of a poem, essay, story or another creative form
  • Should show a personal understanding of their fish species, its habitat, behavior & conservation needs
  • Can be hand-written or typed
  • Not necessary, but OK to be creative with illustrations as long as they are secondary to the words
  • No more than 1 side of 1 page in length. “Written Words” are not judged by length, but by what you say…so you don’t need to fill the whole page…less is ok
  • Should have the student’s name, state and grade on the back

Writing Tips

Here are ideas to help you write about your chosen state-fish:
Once you choose a fish to illustrate and write about, you’ll learn tons about your fish. You’ll know what your fish looks like, where it lives, how it acts, what it eats, what is important for it to stay strong, how people are helping it, and more. Maybe you visited a lake, a stream, or a hatchery where your fish was born.
When you are ready to write about your fish, spend some quiet time thinking about what you’ve learned. What do you like most about this fish? What is it about this fish that is exciting to you? What do you want to tell others about it? If you’ve been making notes, highlight what jumps out at you. Narrow your ideas to what you think are the most interesting, important facts about your fish.  

The way you write about your fish is up to you. Here are some ideas:

  • Write a report, essay or story using the fish facts and info you have learned
  • Use amazing details to write a true story about your fish
  • Interview a conservation worker and write an essay that describes how his or her work helps your fish
  • Write a news article-style about your fish.  Include: Who, What When, Where, How and Why
  • Write a story or poem that includes true details about your fish.
  • Tell a fish story. Include a beginning, middle and end.
  • Create a rhyming or non-rhyming fish poem.  You might choose an acrostic poem, a shape poem, a list poem or even a few haikus to tell about
  • Make a journal entry pretending that you are a conservation worker
  • Write as though you are talking to your fish, or let your fish do the talking

These are only a few ideas.  It’s okay if you want to write a traditional essay or if you want to use another writing style that isn’t listed.  Just remember to follow the checklist below.

Here is a short checklist of writing guidelines.  Use this list to make sure your writing entry follows the rules:
  • Show what you know.  Be sure to mention some of those fish facts –
  • where and how your fish lives, how it behaves, what it needs to survive
  • Keep it short whether it is an essay, a story or a poem – one side of one page is the max
  • Write it yourself – no copycats allowed!
  • Handwrite or type – either is okay as long as the judges can read what you wrote
  • You can decorate your essay but be sure to not overdo it…your writing is the focus here
  • Remember to add your name, state and grade on the BACK of the page

Good luck and have fun showing the judges how your fish has made you smarter!