Lots of Release Days! Scholarship opportunities for students at three Addison County schools. Wrapping up!
More Release Days!
At this time of the year, my schedule for each week contains at least two, often three, release days. The last five days were no different.
Before I comment on and provide photos from the two RDs that I attended most recently, I want to share the many great photos that Doug Zehner, of Central Vermont TU and the New Haven River Anglers Association, sent to me.
On May 17, I and several other volunteers helped three Addison County elementary schools conduct their releases on the South Branch of the Middlebury River. After assisting with the South Western Vermont Chapter of TU's clean up of the Batten Kill on Saturday, I was back at Ripton's Robert Frost site this past Tuesday to observe the Release Day of Melissa Muzzy's students at Vergennes Union High School. We anticipated a visit from Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. Unfortunately, Louis was called to another obligation, but Tom Jones and Adam Miller, of the Fish Culture Division, were able to join us. Joel Flewelling of the department was also an active Release Day participant, running the electrofishing demonstration not only for the Vergennes students but also those from Mt. Abe, who missed that activity at their Release Day.
Here are a few photos.
Wallingford Release Day
The day after the Vergennes release, I was up on the Roaring Brook to help Pat Bowen's students learn about macroinvertebrates. It was another beautiful day. Pat had organized four stations that the groups of students rotated through: electro-fishing, casting practice, riverine ecology, and macroinvertebrates.
Fish and Wildlife's Shawn Good found brookies, browns, and rainbows in the water, including one or two bigger than you might expect. As a completely unexpected but very nice touch, Pat presented each volunteer with trout-themed key chain as a thank-you gift.
Stocking East Creek
Because we were asking so much of Fish and Wildlife staff, especially for electro-fishing demonstrations, F&W asked if we might be able to find volunteers to help with one of their planned stocking operations. I didn't do a great job of finding volunteers--only Castleton University history professor Andre Fleche and I were able to assist--but the two of us had fun working with Shawn Good and Dave Jareckie for several hours. Together we put 750 "trophy" rainbows into five different sections of East Creek. I was amazed to consider that just about any Rutland boy or girl could walk to a beautiful river flowing through one of Vermont's larger cities with the hope of catching a beautiful, fat, 18" rainbow.
After Andre and had a couple of slices of Ramunto's pizza, I put my waders back on and returned to the stream, this time with my fly rod. Here a five photos of that day.
I was meant to end my week on Friday by helping Charlie Cummings and his 3rd grade students at Fisher Elementary School (Arlington) release their trout into a tributary of the Batten Kill that flows near their school. Given the cold, rainy, and windy conditions that were forecast for Friday morning, Charlie wisely decided to reschedule their Release Day. Since I hadn't had a chance to sleep in yet that week, I wasn't altogether disappointed.
Doug Zehner sent me a copy of a wonderful "good news" e-mail. Here's what it said:
The New Haven River Anglers Association will sponsor two different scholarships in your school system this year--one is for $500 for a graduating senior interested in the natural sciences, the other is for all costs associated with attending Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department's "Green Mountain Conservation Camp" for one week this summer for a 12 to 14 year old. One set of scholarships is available each for Middlebury, Vergennes, and Mt. Abe systems. If you know of any good candidates in your system, please pass his/her name on to your appropriate guidance department as they will help us make the selections. Not much in the way of application that I know of--no limitations. Just a good interested student.
Thank you for your help.
So, if you know of an appropriate student in one of these three school systems, contact the shool's guidance department. If you're not associated with any of these Addison County schools, maybe this will inspire you to fund-raise for and launch a similar program in your part of the state.
For those of you who have released your trout it's time to break down your equipment, clean it, and pack it away until next fall. Please review Chapter 10 of the Maryland/DC TIC Manual. You'll notice that this chapter, like many in the MD manual, is specific to the equipment they recommend, namely, the Fluval 406 filter and the TradeWind drop-in chiller.
If you're using different equipment, you should check the Web site of the manufacturer of your gear. (This fall, Lisa Marks, of Ludlow Elementary, discovered a black substance in her tank, which she suspects was due to the fact that water remained inside her flow-through chiller for six months.)
I need your data! We need your data!!
Please send me whatever you can of the following:
If you can submit your reports, preferably as Excel or Google spreadsheets, the other TIC coordinators and I will pour over these data intensively, looking trends that will indicate how we should modify our practice next year. We will also consult with F&W fisheries biologists and other scientists.
We're hoping particularly to fine-tune our basis for predicting swim-up. We also want to evaluate whether bacterial additives are helping our fish as much as folks at Ecological Laboratories say they should.
We will, of course, give you a full report on our investigations.
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.