By Spike Cover, Duncan Griffiths, Chris Neaves, Karen Pattist
Q: What if there was a source right in your home, available 24/7/365, that could provide the information you want and need about Koi keeping? Wouldn’t that be nice, not to mention convenient?
A: Good news: There is just such a source and it’s only a click away on your own computer. A new teaching/learning web site is available right now online at www.KoiOrganisationInternational.org.
About mid-year of 2009, a small group of dedicated Koi hobbyists (aka “fish geeks”) were searching for a suitable outlet for their desire to both learn more and teach others about good Koi husbandry. The group grew into a steering committee of more than 25 members. As the possibilities were discussed, the group observed that they were not just US-based Koi enthusiasts, but their ranks included members of the international community. Further, it was recognized that since much good information comes from around the world, any thoughts of restricting the group’s participants to the US would seriously limit their efforts. And, since face-to-face interacting is impractical on a world-wide basis, it became evident that the Internet presented the most logical venue. However, observations of postings on the Internet consistently revealed that much of the information there is unsupported personal opinion or sheer speculation. This underscored the need for evidence-based information that is current, accurate and useful. Putting all these needs, observations and ideas together and following them to their logical conclusion, the group decided to form an international, internet-based teaching and learning organization to provide fact-based information for the hobby. The logo and name were chosen to reflect both the focus on Koi and the international nature of the group – therefore the use of the “s” in Organisation.
As a volunteer group, large amounts of money were not required to launch the endeavor. At first, the core group simply funded the initial costs. However, the steering committee soon realized this was not a long term solution and the project needed a source of sustaining funds. In order to accept tax-deductible donations, they incorporated as Koi Organisation International, Inc. and applied for non profit status. That approval has been granted and all donations to K.O.I are now tax deductible.
In addition, the thought surfaced that if the groups’ efforts were truly valuable to others, those “others” would be willing to pay a nominal amount for the results of the time consuming task of researching, verifying and assembling or creating the final products. While some of the information available is free, other offerings have a modest fee in order to provide funding to sustain the group’s mission.
The steering committee developed the following mission statement:
The mission of Koi Organisation InternationalTM is to promote and improve the world wide enjoyment of the Koi hobby by providing hobbyists with opportunities for education, scientific study and mentoring, the recognition and management of Koi and pond system problems and the management of improvement options.
With the mission clear, the group set about recruiting experienced instructors, developing the teaching materials, course offerings, eBooks, and other information to help hobbyists be better Koi keepers.
Koi Organisation International (“K.O.I.TM”) provides instructional courses on many aspects of the hobby for all levels of interest. Students work with instructors and mentors to improve their understanding of Koi keeping. Members can provide one-on-one consultations through e-mails, phone consults and on-site visits if needed. Products of interest to Koi keepers are available from the online K.O.I. store.
Instructional courses begin with the most basic information and build on each other in successive levels of complexity and depth. Curious visitors will be pleased to discover there is a free comprehensive Beginners Course, K.O.I. 101 for the novice Koi keeper that is available to anyone that registers at the K.O.I. web site. This course can be taken as time permits and includes a self-test. The goal of K.O.I. 101 is to provide basic recommendations and guidelines to help keep Koi alive and healthy. This web-based course is available in multiple formats. Choose from Web pages of text and pictures, a series of self-paced, narrated Power Point presentations or an audio format for download to MP3 players. Fun activities will allow Koi keepers to test their knowledge as they complete each section. Those who successfully complete the entire course may print a certificate of completion.
K.O.I. 101 includes information on:
• Questions to answer before building a pond
• Pond construction pitfalls
• Pond retrofits
• Pond safety
• Pond stocking densities
• Filtration & water quality
• Koi buying & feeding
• Diagnosis & treatments of Koi health problems
• Koi stress & handling
• Emergency responses
The more experienced Koi keeper might want to jump right into the Level 2, Certified Koi KeeperSMcourses. The goal of the Certified Koi Keeper curriculum is to provide a solid understanding of the primary Koi health and husbandry issues and to make such information available to as many Koi keepers as practical. Ideally, all Koi keepers would wish to achieve this advanced level of knowledge.
The Certified Koi Keeper curriculum consists of a series of modules that include:
• Water Quality
• Pond Construction
• Diagnosis and Treatment
• Biosecurity, Quarantine & Record Keeping
• On-Line Lab
All courses will be taught by experienced instructors such as Duncan Griffiths, Chris Neaves, Richard Strange, Ken Austin, Spike Cover and many more. The Certified Koi Keeper on-line lab will be conducted as a Webinar and will not require traveling. Students may take just one, a few or all of the courses but those who successfully complete a specified curriculum have the option to become a Certified Koi Keeper. There is a small charge for these courses, but discounts are available for K.O.I. members and for bundling multiple courses.
Anyone is eligible to take the Level 3, Master Koi KeeperSM courses. However, adequate prior knowledge equivalent to the completion of the Level 2 coursework is recommended as a foundation. Level 3 expands on the knowledge gained in the Level 2 by offering 14 advanced modules that explore various topics in greater depth. Students that successfully complete a specified curriculum may become certified as a Master Koi Keeper.
A dedicated student can also become a Koi SpecialistSM.
Courses are planned in areas that will allow students to pursue several specialties. The specialties currently planned include:
• Koi Show Water Quality
• Diagnosis and Treatment
• Water Flow Dynamics
• Pond Building
• DIY (do it yourself)
Features and Benefits...
The K.O.I. program does not require students who are seeking certification to be affiliated with any club or organization. The program is international, drawing students and instructors from countries around the world. All courses are open enrolment and may be purchased by anyone that has an interest, virtually whenever they wish and without committing to any further training. Again, the K.O.I. website provides current, accurate and useful information; easily accessible to anyone with a computer and students have access to the knowledge and expertise of many recognized experts from around the world. Participation is open to all by virtue of sharing the common goal of successful Koi keeping.
Plans for the Future...
The Koi Organisation International Board of Directors is charged with the long-term vision for and guidance of the organization. And, while the original core group took nearly a year preparing to “go public,” the intent is to continue to expand and improve the offerings. Such improvements will be guided by the Board and an Advisory Committee which will actively solicit, collect, evaluate and attempt to implement appropriate suggestions from the community they seek to serve.
The Board of Directors and founding members of K.O.I. are extending the hand of friendship to Koi keepers around the world. K.O.I. is encouraging the growth of the hobby by offering hobbyists the knowledge to become more successful as Koi keepers. Can you be a better Koi keeper? Come and judge for yourself at www.KoiOrganisationInternational.org.
The logo, Koi Organisation International and K.O.I. (all first inclusions identified by “TM”) are trademarks of Koi Organisation International, Inc. All rights reserved.
Certified Koi Keeper, Master Koi Keeper and Koi Specialist are service marks of Koi Organisation International, Inc. All rights reserved.