Sending Young Trout to School

Seven Colorado schools are taking part in Trout Unlimited's Trout in the Classroom program this year. While raising trout from eggs to fingerlings in a tank right in their classroom, students learn about water quality monitoring, stream habitat and water resources. TIC also provides lesson plans and web-based resources for teachers.

It's a great experience for students, as the following letter from a Thompson Valley High School student clearly shows.

Trout in the Classroom - By “JC”

Various questions I get throughout the day are, “Hey, How are the fish doing”, or “Are all of these fish still okay?”

This has been a product of Mr. Hewson teaching students about the life-cycle of the trout as well as the chemical balance in the tank. Most kids aren’t really interested from a chemical standpoint but that plays a big part. That’s where I come in, so the fish can survive and stay healthy. I do a 5-15 gallon water-change daily to make sure the nitrites and ammonium don’t build up in the tank and kill the fish.

I need to do what I do so that, come next spring, we can transport our fish to the Big Thompson River happy and healthy. But last year, for fear of the fish not being big enough to survive against the river’s larger and more aggressive brown trout, we decided to hold them at a nearby water-treatment plant where they have two 55-gallon tanks with a constant flow of Big Thompson River water moving through them. So the fish get an extra year to grow and learn to eat river insects before having to make it on their own in a harsh river.

I have learned that, yes, we are doing it to help restock the “Big T” with rainbow trout and, yes, to help Mr. Hewson teach. But kids have lots of interests and they just need to find the right one; if the option isn’t there how can they figure that out by themselves?

When kids walk in to Mr. Hewson’s room, sometimes they stop at the door to talk to me about how the fish are doing, or just sit there and watch them swim around. It’s a great feeling for me to actually help them get interested in the fish. It helps me carry on in doing my work so that they can enjoy the fish being healthy and the water is as clean as I can get it. Sometimes they’ll see me changing the water and ask, ”Why are you doing all this?” and I’ll respond, “So we can learn about fish and chemical cycles.”  And before you know it they are taking a mini-lesson from me, and Mr. Hewson, if he’s there.

By the end of this year, our fish will be more than fifteen inches long. We plan to release them into the tanks at the water plant right after we release last year’s fish into the Big Thompson.

Visit the ColoradoTU Trout in the Classroom page.

Learn more about National Trout Unlimited's Trout in the Classroom program.