Lincoln Community School Release Day
Pulling into the LCS parking lot, I was impressed by the number of cars saddled with three or more inches of heavy, wet snow, but as I snaked the last few miles up Lincoln Road, the "hoar frost" on the over-hanging mountains signaled the weather we should expect for Lincoln Community School's Release Day. Indeed, when I checked my fishing thermometer, the air temperature was 40 degrees, identical to the temperature of the beautiful New Haven River, curving around the back side of the school. Just two days earlier, the river had been 50; so our young fry, who'd been living in a comparatively comfortable 50-degree classroom tank, were in for a thermal shock.
Intermittent snow flurries punctuated a day that was glorious in spite of the weather. Here's some of what the day looked like.
LCS had terrific community support for its Release Day. Several members of the Central Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited contributed, including chapter TIC liaison Bob Wible and his wife Nancy and Nancy Crandall and Doug Zehner, who taught fly casting both outdoors and in the school gym.
Joe Nelson introduced students to riparian forestry; and Craig Zondag, of the Otter Creek Audubon Society, led students through the riverine woods in pursuit of songbirds. Steve Atocha, owner of Middlebury Mountaineer, taught the 5th and 6th graders beginning fly tying; and Ashley Eaton and Sam Clerkin from the Lake Champlain Sea Grant program--Watershed Alliance, paying a second visit to LCS, guided a macroinvertebrate collecting and classifying activity. Also assisting were members of the New Haven River Anglers club.
Four groups of students, eight to nine in each group, rotated among the four activity stations that had been set up. When each of the groups finished their macroinvertebrate collecting activity, we took the students back to the classroom and asked, "How long is it going to take the trout to adjust to finding natural food in the stream?" As with the MEMS students (see previous blog post), the guesses were all over the place, but most students didn't think the adjustment would be--INSTANTANEOUS! As it was.
I can't think of a better way to teach the concept of instinct.
Finally, shortly before 2:30, Bob Wible, teacher Mikaela Frank, and I transported two coolers--holding, how many? 143 very healthy-looking brook trout!--down to the banks of the river and got organized for the release. Within minutes, all the other students and teachers at LCS joined us to celebrate an unusually successful Trout in the Classroom season. After brief remarks, the fish were released into their new--now we know--macro-filled home, and everybody cheered.
PS: To date, with the exception of two schools that kept their tanks very cold (38 or 40 degrees), the LCS total is a state record. Of course, at least two dozen schools are still growing their trout, so that could be eclipsed.
But, both quantitatively and qualitatively, LCS had a SUPER year! Thanks to Mollie Sprague (now on maternity leave) and Mikaela Frank for all their hard work and diligent attention. (I hope to follow this with a blog post that describes some of the many enrichment activities that Mollie and Mikaela introduced to their school's TIC program.) Thanks too to Bob Wible, who provided unwavering support.
When we'd finally netted the LCS trout out of their tank and were able to count them, Mikaela, who thought they might have had "80 to 100," had this to say.
Ludlow Elementary School students earn honorable mention in Scholastic competition
Earlier today, Ludlow Elementary School's Lisa Marks and her 3rd grade students got some very good news.
Lisa had entered the wonderful book of TIC-related water color paintings and text that her students had created into Scholastic Magazine's national "Kids Are Authors" competition. This is the 30th year of this prestigious award, which annually receives 1,500 to 2,000 entries. Scholastic awards a first place winner and 25 honorable mentions. Never before has a Vermont school made the list, but in the final year of the competition, LES was chosen as one of the honorable mentions.
I addition to this very special honor, Ludlow Elementary will be able to purchase $500 worth of books of their choice.
Congratulations Lisa and students!
For those of you who haven't seen or don't remember the Ludlow Elementary School's student's beautiful artwork and text, you can find it on the slide show page here.
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.