Neosho was like a big fish pond the last day of March with the invasion of some 40 fisheries personnel from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Neosho was like a big fish pond the last day of March with the invasion of some 40 fisheries personnel from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The group, representing fish hatcheries, laboratories and field offices throughout Region 3, made the visit to Neosho as part of a training session held at Bass Pro in Springfield, Mo. The three-day session included seminars and lectures, and a trip to Neosho to visit the oldest federal fish hatchery in the United States.

In addition to fisheries people throughout the region, which includes 8 Midwestern states, there were officials from the regional office in Minnesota, and Assistant Director Gary Frazer, the top fisheries official in the Fish and Wildlife Service, who came in from Washington, D. C.. Several of those attending the meetings brought spouses and even children on the trip.

The first order of business upon arrival was a tour of the Neoshol hatchery which was given by the local staff. Then it was picnic time.

Hatchery employee Jeff Messens and volunteer Russ Hively manned the barbeque pit and a large cast of other volunteers served food and dished up desserts. This gave the guests a chance to sit back and relax after a day of lectures and training.

One of the most widely heard comments was how happy so many were about their visit the oldest hatchery in the system. The Neosho hatchery is legendary in the Fish and Wildlife Service, and many are the stories which circulate about its history.

One fish biologists from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, expressed her joy at being in Neosho. "I've always heard about Neosho," she said, "but this is my first visit and I'm really impressed."

Noting that many of the visitors were more than fish biologists, this same lady said many were true "fish geeks." She also mentioned that most of the "geeks" were employees who don't get to work directly with large fish populations each day. Most do office or lab work, and they thoroughly enjoy getting to visit one of the hatcheries.

Because of cool weather and high winds, the picnic was held in the new sturgeon building on the hatchery grounds. This building is home to hundreds of young endangered pallid sturgeons and a handful of mature sturgeon which the local hatchery is working with in a breeding program.
The big blue raceways where the sturgeon are held were the center of attention as the "fish geeks" and other fisheries personnel took advantage of seeing a pallid sturgeon, some for the first time. Seeing that many in one place is something few people in the entire world have

Neosho, and all of Southwest Missouri, is actually quite fortunate to be home to the hatchery and especially since it is the oldest and probably most famous in the nation.

Plans call for a groundbreaking ceremony in June for a new headquarter/visitor center at the hatchery, and many at the picnic expressed an eagerness to return for the ceremony. So Neosho can look forward once again to a visit from the "fish geeks."

The picnic was made possible because of donations from John and Betty Wright, Betty Marty, Harlan Stark, Jerry and Lucy Christian, Russell and Kay Hively, Kenneth and Anne Cope, Bea Nodler, Chuck Nodler, Russ and Sabra Hively, WXY Sporting Goods, Jim and Cathy Sheehy, Monark Springs Baptist Church, Charlene Reber, Dick Keezer, Larry and Linda James, Debbie Kruse, Don and Nina Johnson, Mary Jean Barker, Karen Kleiboeker, Gary and Susie Smith, and the personnel at the Missouri Department of Conservation office in Neosho.