Fishing the Hudson Eco-Week

Captain ChrisMiddle school students can spend spring break on the Hudson aboard a 50’ fishing vessel with educators from Beczak Environmental Education Center and Captain Chris of Island Current Charters. Participants will boat the Hudson each day and explore the river’s rich ecology, participate in a Striped Bass Derby, trawl the bottom of the river and identify their catch, and learn about boating safety and nautical terms.

Boys and girls ages 10 – 14 are welcome to participate.  The program runs  March 29 – April 2, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM daily. $300 for 5-day program. Register at / (914) 377-1900 ext. 12. Beczak Environmental Education Center, 35 Alexander Street, Yonkers, NY 10701.

Participants in Fishing the Hudson Eco-Week begin and end each day at Beczak Environmental Education Center, a nature center along the Hudson River in Yonkers, NY. From there, it’s a short walk to Yonkers’ historic pier, a stately, century-old structure that is in daily use by New York Water Taxi and commercial tugboats. There, children and educators will boardIsland Current II, a 50’ United States Coast Guard certified fishing vessel that’s fully equipped with fishing gear, safety equipment, heated cabin and head (toilet) and the latest navigational tools.

Each day’s exciting outing will introduce participants to animals that live in the different habitats of the Hudson River, from the sunlit surface to the muddy bottom. Besides being a lot of fun, the week will show first-hand why the Hudson River is a vital natural resource. On each four-hour cruise, Beczak educators involve participants in collecting marine life at all depths. Fishing rods with tasty bait lure striped bass, herring, catfish and perch.  And everyone helps inspect the trawl net’s harvest: usually a variety of crabs, fish, and always a few surprises. Microscopes back at Beczak Environmental Education Center provide a closer look at the diversity of marine life found in the Hudson River. Each participant keeps their own ship log, in which they record the day’s catch, conditions and observations.

 “We’ve been running educational charters out of City Island for the past two summers, says Captain Chris, the owner of Island Current Charters. “Children absolutely love it. Captain Chris, better known as Mr. Cullen to children at Dows Lane Elementary School in Irvington, NY, is also a third grade teacher known for his enthusiasm and knowledge of marine science.

 “Kids love being on the boat, and especially catching big fish, the kind you get in the middle of the river,” continues Captain Chris. “We’ll give each child their own rod and bait, and kick off the Hudson River’s famous Striped Bass season with a fishing derby. We’ll also drop the boat’s trawl nets and see what’s living at the bottom of the river. There’s no better way to see how rich the Hudson’s aquatic life is than by boat.”  

Vicky Garufi, Director of Education for Beczak Environmental Education Center, is equally delighted to be taking children out on to the river. “I worked at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT, and helped with the Marine Life Study Cruises aboard the Research Vessel Oceanic.Fishing the Hudson Eco-Week is the only opportunity I know of for children to be on the Hudson River in a boat with marine educators, learning about life at the shores and below the surface.”


Beczak Environmental Education Center is a non-profit organization that presents exhibits and programs for all ages to raise environmental awareness and to encourage informed stewardship of rivers.  They celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2010.

 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation calls Beczak’s rehabilitated property an “environmental recovery success story.” Located on the banks of the Hudson in the City of Yonkers, at River Mile 18, this spacious interpretive center is an adaptive reuse of the former social club for Habirshaw Cable & Wire Co. Its two-acre park features a welcoming riverfront lawn, an easily accessible tidal marsh and a beach used for river exploration and seining.  

 Beczak educators work with approximately 20,000 children and families each year through in-school river education programs, field trips at its riverfront center and after school environmental clubs. Public programs include River Explorers and Fish Tales for children, RiverTalks lectures and Urban H2O concerts for adults, Lunchtime Learning for seniors, Summer Adventures camp, and professional development for educators.