Colorado Trout Unlimited has been a proud partner of a Trout in the Classroom program, in which middle or high school level classrooms raise trout from the egg to the fry life stages. At the end of the year-long course, the classroom releases the trout into a local lake or stream- connecting the students back to their local environment. During the year each teacher tailors the program to fit their curricular needs. Therefore, each program is unique. TIC has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, fine arts, and physical education.
The program helps students learn hands on about water quality, biology, population studies, and environmental issues. "I really like having the tank in my classroom because it’s a new lesson every day," said Mike Sanchez, TIC teacher at Academy High School in the Maptleton School District. "There’s water chemistry, population dynamics, evolution, ecology, fish anatomy, etc. You can always come up with something to talk about and the kids are genuinely interested."
In 1997, TIC was started in New York through the efforts of the late Joan Stoliar, volunteers from Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers. Since its inception, TIC in NY has grown from four classrooms to more than 200. This rapid growth is a testament to the program’s adaptability, effectiveness, and ability to interest students of all ages and backgrounds.
In Colorado, there are currently six active tanks involved with the TIC program. These classrooms are located all over Colorado. CTU helps these classrooms by assisting in obtaining trout eggs, coordinating supplies, and helping with the required disease testing prior to the release.
The trout fry are released into a local river, stream, or lake. This allows the kids to be connected and engage with their local environment and ecosystems. Some of the sites teach kids about fishing and how it relates to conservation and the fish they raised. "We also spend a few days enjoying some fishing at local ponds and the stocked Lake Lehow in Littleton," said Sanchez. "Kids appreciate the biology and learning how to fish, it’s a great week."
Sites are typically teamed up with a local chapter that will also help with some of the funding and supplying the classroom with the necessary equipment. This allows the chapter to connect with youth in the community and helps connect kids to their local ecosystems. "Trout in the Classroom helps our chapter engage local middle school students by connecting them to the habitats and ecosystems in their own backyard," said Ben Bloodworth, President of the Grand Valley Anglers. "The program allows students to learn hands-on about challenges facing trout populations and water quality unique to the western slope.”
Parents have also gotten into the fun through TIC. "While the program is targeted at the kids, the teachers involved have noted that many of the parents have been excited about the tanks as well, not only keeping up with the egg/fry progress through their children, but visiting the tanks during parent-teacher conferences, involving the whole family in the educational process," said Bloodworth.
If you or someone you know may be interested in developing a Trout in the Classroom site at your school, please contact Jeff Florence, for more information!