Ludlow Elementary School Release Day
On a cold and rainy May 24th when it sometimes poured, Ludlow's third graders had a great, mostly outdoors, Release Day experience at Hawk Mountain Resort, where LES community volunteer and Trout Unlimited member Kathy Ehlers works.
Here's what the 72 LES fish looked like just minutes before being netted out of their classroom home.
Once everyone had arrived, Lisa Marks addressed the assembled students, teachers, volunteers, and special guests, making introductions and explaining the plan for the day. She also offered several thank-you's, especially to Okemo Community Challenge, which provided financial support for the LES TIC program and one of whose board members, Lisa Schmidt, spent the whole Release Day with the class.
The first activity of the day was macroinvertebrate collecting and classifying, which I led. Students found an abundance of macros, and we could tell from many pollution-intolerant species we found that the Black River in that location is a healthy stream.
Once we'd assessed the quality of the habitat where our new releasees would be living, it was time to let them go. After receiving a pint container with three to six fish in it, each student decided where to add their trout to the stream.
We all took a snack break; then several volunteers taught students fly casting, using equipment provided either by LES community partner Kathy Ehlers or by Hawk Mountain Resort. Those who weren't learning the beautiful art of fly fishing played games. Now on to lunch!
Because of the LES release site included a trout pond, volunteer Kathy Ehlers granted the students a special treat: feeding the fish! Here's a short video of a bit of that activity.
While it rained on and off most of the day, it wasn't until after the fish had had their lunch that the skies truly opened up, forcing cancellation of the planned nature walk. Fortunately, Hawk Mountain Resort also allowed us to use their recreation building. This meant shelter from the downpour and an opportunity to shift to some indoor back-up plans. Kathy had recruited Davey Davis to help with the release, and he had brought his guitar. Both a talented musician and a dedicated fly fisherman, several years ago Davey started a musical group called "Brown Trout and the Lunkers." He also writes songs about trout and the outdoors he so loves and played/sang a few of those to the kids.
Later, Kathy shared many interesting objects that she had brought. These included plaster of Paris casts of bear and raccoon tracks and photos of bear and moose sign on beech trees and of a porcupine den close to the release site. Finally she passed around a pair of deer antlers and--tada!--a beautiful set of moose antlers. Needless to say, there was much oohing and aahing from kids as well as adults.
We might have wanted nicer weather, but we couldn't have had a better day!
Lyman C. Hunt Middle School
Here's a great video Scott Pease sent of their Release Day in Underhill.
I'm very impressed, Scott, not only by the video but also how quickly you were able to produce it!
Mary Hogan School.
Steve Flint held Mary Hogan's third Release Day on the upper Middlebury River near the Robert Frost trailhead. As always, Steve was incredibly organized and had recruited a veritable "cast of thousands" to help educate his students on topics that included marcoinvertebrates, stream dynamics and characteristics, the riparian zone, birdlife of the area, etc. Several individuals represented the Central Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited and/or New Haven River Anglers. Members of the Otter Creek Audubon Society staffed the birdlife station. A Middlebury College visiting professor of education also led one of the stations.
Since Paul Urband, of Central Vermont TU, and I hosted students at a site on the river where Irene relocated it, I was not able to take pictures of many students and volunteers. Here are just a few.
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.