For fifteen years, the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited has supported Trout in the Classroom, a hands-on learning program that gets children engaged in the process of raising trout.
"Teachers built it into the curriculum for their students," Dick O’Neill, Trout in the Classroom coordinator, said. "Each teacher puts their own spin on it."
Schools begin preparing their tanks in the fall and 200 fertilized trout eggs arrive at each site in November where they hatch after two to three weeks.
“It was my first year so I didn’t know how involved the kids would get, but they loved it,” Christen Veach, sixth grade science teacher at Saxe Middle School said. “In life science, we have an example, we can talk about this species in particular — why we’re raising trout and why there’s a shortage in Connecticut.”
This is the third year that Saxe Middle School has participated in Trout in the Classroom — utilizing the program in both their sixth grade curriculum and charging the Trout Club with caring for the fish and maintaining the water quality in the tanks.
“We had a second tank this year,” Melinda Meyer, K-8 Science Coordinator at Saxe Middle School, said. “One tank was doing better than the other, so we were able to talk about variables, what they might have done differently.”
The Trout Club met twice a week all winter to check on the tank and test the water. Documenting their findings in a spreadsheet, Saxe can learn from both successes and mistakes for next year’s trout.
“They came as eggs and slowly they got bigger — it was fun, it was different,” sixth grader Zach Lopez said. “Sometimes we had to filter the water, I learned how to test the pH level.”
Three members of the Trout Club — Lopez and fifth graders Michelle Siegel and Dylan Koproski — accompanies their teachers and representatives from the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited to Silvermine School on Monday to release the trout.
“We had a good year,” O'Neill said. “At a first year school, if 20% of the trout survive, that’s good. We had schools this year with 50-60% survival.”
After carrying the containers of fish down to the river, they added water from the river to help the fish get acclimated before releasing them into their new home.
“We hope as a result, [the students] will go on and be good stewards of our environment,” O’Neill said. “They’ll have an appreciation for the importance of keeping our water clean and pure.”