“The trout are hatching! But one of the eggs turned white, and it came out funny,” a second grade student informed me during Nordic practice at Lone Mountain Ranch.
Three weeks ago, I drove to the Ennis National Fish Hatchery to pick up 100 rainbow trout eggs for a display in the second grade classroom. Now that the trout have started to hatch, the fun and learning have truly begun.
Since 2013, the hatchery has donated 100 rainbow trout eggs to the Trout in the Classroom Program at Ophir Elementary School. This year, the second grade students under the guidance of educator and fly fishing enthusiast, John Hannahs, will attempt to raise trout from eggs to fingerlings in their classroom.
During the next couple of months, students will learn about habitat and water quality by monitoring and maintaining a tank. The young scientists will watch their trout develop through the various phases of their life cycle, and understand the true meaning of natural selection when some of their fish don’t survive to release day. Supplementary curriculum, developed by Gallatin River Task Force and Ophir Educators, will emphasize important watershed ecology themes.
According to second grade teacher, John Hannahs:
The students have shown extraordinary responsibility and ownership in maintaining this delicate ecosystem. They have gained a deeper understanding of the freshwater biome, the intricacies of the trout life cycle, and their own role in being stewards of the landscape as well as watershed conservation.
Since its inception four years ago, the Trout in the Classroom Program has been a huge success! The program has inspired curiosity that extends beyond the classroom, spilling into vibrant discussions at sports practices and future science fair projects. In addition to facilitating the 2016 program, the Gallatin River Task Force staff mentored alumni from both the 2015 and 2014 programs who chose to investigate water quality-themes for their science fair projects.
We, at the Gallatin River Task Force, are excited to partner with Ophir Educators and the Ennis National Fish Hatchery to develop the next generation of river stewards!