Bringing nature into the classroom is a key component of the Trout in the Classroom Program, which the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited (ENCTU) kicked off in nearly twenty schools in the Kanawha Valley this week.
Trout in the Classroom (TIC) offers students a chance to raise trout in a classroom setting and then release them into a nearby stream or river. Caring for the fish fosters a conservation ethic in the students, and the act of walking to a stream bank and directly releasing the fingerlings into the water makes a concrete connection between caring for the fish and caring for the water. Lakewood Elementary School in St. Albans was the first school to participate in the Trout in the Classroom program.
“This is the 10th year we have done Trout in the Classroom and it continues to grow in popularity. We have great teachers participating who spend the extra time monitoring and caring for these fish so their students can learn about the trout life cycle up close and personal,” said Homer Sweeney, a coordinator for the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Over a six-month period the trout are raised from eggs to fingerling size in 55 gallons aquariums in 19 classrooms. The teachers and students feed the trout and with the assistance of Trout Unlimited volunteers, monitor the pH level, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and water temperature of the aquariums.
In the spring, when the trout reach fingerling size, the students will work with Ernie Nester Trout Unlimited volunteers to release the trout into local streams near their elementary school.
“This is a great program that teaches kids responsibility and about the life cycle of trout and also the importance of cold, clean waters, which is part of the mission of Trout Unlimited,” concluded Ralph Douglas, a coordinator for the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited