Amy Short and Steve Craig are the Fishin’ Magicians but their interests go far beyond fish. They consider themselves ecological entertainers, and over the past three decades have developed educational programs, conference entertainment and family shows focused on the care of the environment. Magic is their medium for teaching about water and plant ecology, providing an understanding of how that affects beneficial insects, including butterflies.
Saturday, they will be in Barton County performing their butterfly magic show at the Kansas Wetlands Entertainment Center’s Butterfly Festival.
The husband and wife volunteer naturalists met in the mid-1980s, both as they finished college and entered the mental health field. Amy was an occupational therapist, and Steve was a counselor with a master’s degree in counseling psychology.
Both nurtured a love for entertaining and magic that started when they were children, and that turned out to be a bigger draw than the professional careers they’d prepared for. A few years into their marriage, Amy suggested they act on their dream of becoming professional entertainers.
“We decided to give it a try and never went back,” Steve said. “We’re still part of the mental health field. We help people to feel good through laughter and wonder.”
In the beginning, they focused on water quality. It was easy, considering they both enjoy fishing. Steve especially enjoys fly-fishing. Their involvement as volunteer naturalists with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild and Stream Team stems from that love. What they learned about the insects that live in the water, providing food for the fish, was incorporated into their shows. They began volunteering at the butterfly house at the Springfield Botanic Gardens and assisted with developing monarch resources.
Through that, they created their program, “How to get a grip on butterfly gardening,” Steave said.
Saturday, they will perform three 30-minute magic shows in the KWEC auditorium. In between, keep an eye out for them as they perform strolling, close-up magic around the KWEC grounds.
Not only are they expert magicians and entertainers, they are pretty good at juggling — a full schedule that is. From May through September, they rack up miles, though generally they stay within a day’s drive of home. Based in Nixa, Mo., Amy and Steve are usually within a day to a day and a half of home.
When they aren’t performing or volunteering, Steve and Amy enjoy catch-and-release fishing, as well as all manner of outdoor activities: canoeing, hiking, backpacking, camping, observing wildlife, learning natural history and photographing nature.