Trout in the Classroom

We're so excited to participate in the Trout in the Classroom program!  Students will take care of the trout, learn how to take chemical tests of the water, and make a connection to our local natural resources.

In the spring, we will take a field trip to Dry River (Riven Rock Park) to release the trout.  Students will become "real-life" fisheries biologists as they learn how to assess the quality of the river.  They will learn that a river's health can be measured in three ways:  taking a macroinvertebrate (underwater bugs) sampling, chemical monitoring and population count.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a conservation-based environmental education program for elementary, middle, and high school students.  In the program, students and teachers raise trout from fertilized eggs supplied by VGIF hatcheries, in aquariums equipped with special chillers designed to keep the water near 50 degrees F.  The students make daily temperature measurements, and monitor pH and ammonia levels with test kits.  They record their data, plot trends, and make sure that the water quality is sufficient to support trout development.  The fingerlings, which hatch in late October, are almost an inch and a half long by mid-January.  And towards the end of the school year, students will release the fry into VGIF approved watersheds.

TIC programs have been in place all across the country for more than 20 years, and are the result of numerous collaborations between teachers, volunteers, government agencies, and local organizations like Trout Unlimited.  The programs were designed specifically for teachers who wanted to incorporate more environmental education into their curriculum. 

While the immediate goal of Trout in the Classroom is to increase student knowledge of water quality and coldwater conservation, its long-term goal is to reconnect an increasingly urbanized population of youth to the system of streams, rivers, and watersheds that sustain them.  Successful programs have helped:

o       connect students to their local environments and their local watersheds;

o       teach about watershed health and water quality, and;

o       get students to care about fish and the environment.

Chemical Monitoring

Students work with a volunteer scientist from the Department of Environmental Quality to take chemical tests of the river.  Students monitor pH, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, dissolved oxygen and temperature.

Population Count

Fisheries biologists from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries demonstrate how to take a population count.  Students looks for a diversity of species in addition to numbers while VDGIF experts electroshock the river.

Macroinvertebrate Study

Students learn how to do the "River Dance" as they shuffle their feet to dislodge critters on the bottom of the river bed.  Students wade in the water, turn rocks over and collect macroinvertebrates.  Back at shore, students identify the bugs and sort them into different categories.

 

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