First, the bad news. My bad. My very bad!
Concerned that the very fine mesh netting of the breeder baskets we buy from ThatPetPlace.com was a major cause of high alevin mortality in March, I spoke with Dale Spring of Poultney High School. She offered to have her students sew 24 replacement bags out of coarser netting that I purchased from a local sewing supply store.
The students did a great job, and, as an experiment, I gave each of a dozen southwest Vermont TIC schools two bags each. The recommendation was that they use both the supposedly "improved" bags made of coarse netting but also still use the commercially provided bags made of finer netting. I asked teachers to record losses separately for the two types of bags. Great idea, huh?
Except for the law of unintended consequences!
Everything seemed to be going well until yesterday when Castleton Village School's Gay Merolle reported that alevin were able to poke their skinny heads through the coarse netting. Not good! I suggested that Guy and other southwest Vermont teachers abandon the coarse netting bags at this point.
Then this morning Rutland High School's Dawn Adams e-mailed me to say that over the weekend, 75 alevin escaped and were in the gravel, that is, if they hadn't gotten sucked up into the filter! Note to self: remind teachers to install fine mesh over the filter intake fittings!
Now some good news.
First, most schools seems to be doing extremely well. Except for those who are keeping the tank temperature in the low 40s, just about every school has seen all of its eggs hatch. As first-time TIC teachers have observed, alevin don't do much. They just hang out on the bottom of the netting at this point in their development (which is why they're so likely to become infected if the bottom of the netting isn't cleaned regularly once you're adding food). If you're afraid they might be dead, you can jiggle the breeder basket a bit. Almost certainly they're alive.
And second, tonight, the inaugural edition of Vermont PBS's Outdoor Journal will include a segment on Trout in the Classroom, specifically focussed on last May's Release Day at Mary Hogan School. I've put a link to that show on our new "TIC in the media" page. (Let me know if you're aware of other Vermont TIC media coverage that's posted on the Internet.)
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.