Spring has hit the southland! Release Days starting to be scheduled. Hatchery field trip. More RD ideas.
It hit 83 degrees in Rutland County yesterday! The pussy willows along the Mettawee River in Pawlet were almost ready to pop.
Here's more evidence of the advancing season. Aren't these early spring yellows and reds beautiful?
Partial schedule of Release Days
Many schools are progressing with their Release Day planning. Here's a list of schools I've heard from with some of the particulars.
A close-up from Danielle
See the photo Danielle Levine, at School house Learning Center, sent me last week. Here's what Danielle said in transmitting the picture:
Check out how you can still see the trout anatomy through the trout! We were excited to see the digestive system as well as the heart and brain. So cool!
More ideas about Release Day
I belong to a national TIC e-mail group that often provides questions and answers of general interest. Recently, Kelsey Plourde, a New Hampshire teacher, posted the following question.
Wondering about some of your best strategies for release day! Ideally, I'd love to have each student release their own fish- them each with their own small container. How long can they be contained in a baggie or small container? I'm thinking about the goldfish that you can win at a carnival. If we kept the temperature cold, could this potentially work?
Here are some of the responses.
Here in Illinois, students are split into groups and rotate through a few activities. One group conducts the same water quality tests that are run on their aquarium – temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate. They compare these results to the results from the aquarium. Another group does some seining to find what insects, small bait fish, etc. are present in this stretch of the stream. The third group heads to a riffle area, and closely inspects some rocks to see what caddis, clinging mayflies, etc. may be present there. Most of the students at our TIC schools have never even been in a stream.
Regarding the method of transportation for the troutlings, we transport the trout in about a 30 quart cooler with a battery bait bucket aerator. The cooler is about ½ full with water from the aquarium. We place a zip lock bag of ice in the cooler to keep water temperature cool during transport. Once at the creek, we add some stream water to the cooler. At release time, we select a release site upstream from the prior activities, that allows the students to kneel right at the bank to release their fish. Fish are netted from the cooler by a TU volunteer or teacher, and placed one each in clear plastic party cup. We count the fish, and the students each take turns releasing. The actual release only takes about 15 – 20 minutes.
Marvin Strauch, Illinois
What we do here is require that the fish be bagged right before the release and transported in a cooler. When we get to the release site, we have a student take the temp of the release site and another take the temp of the water around the fish. We then bring the temps to within 5 degrees using mixing with the water from the release site. This may take 10-20 minutes as it can’t be rushed--especially when you are going from colder around the fish to warmer at the release site. I also go take temps at the release site days prior to the release and have the teachers adjust their chillers to that temp so the shock isn’t so great on the fish.
It depends on the age group but with the younger kids we dish the fish into small plastic clear cups and have them all hold them till we can do a mass release. We do this in about a 10-15 minute time span, so it goes pretty fast and it is usually cool here in the spring so the temp in the cup doesn’t really change. I would not hold them for a long period of time--15-20 minutes max.
For the older students we release the whole bag at once explaining that there is safety in numbers as the fish will school together.
Maggie Lindsey, South Dakota
We transport all fry in a large cooler with water from the tank and several ice packs to keep them cool. Once we get to the release site, one teacher scoops fry, one at a time, into a dixie cup while another distributes cups to children who have found and are standing at their release sites. Kids do not move around with the fish, teachers do. Once everyone has a fry, we sing "Bye-Bye, Trout" song. Kids know once they hear the song it's time to release. It's tons of fun!
Tina Minard, New Hampshire
Before the students get released for the trip, we transport our fish to the release site in coolers. As long as the creek isn't too high, they get transferred to a float box in the creek until we get back there to release them, or they stay in the cooler with the aerator. We use plastic quart containers to give the students fish, and they walk downstream to a marked off area to let them go--we put a piece of flagging across the creek to keep boots from smashing them walking back and forth.
Dave Andrews, Pennsylvania
Students in my class assess two different places on a river. Then, using the data collected, determine the best location for release (required to write an argument paper). Then on a difference day we bring a clean cooler filled with water from the tank that matches the river. We use dixie cups and each student gets to release a couple of trout. When we walk to the site, the person carrying the cooler tries there best to be steady and not slosh the fish around. Note also that we do a final assessment of habitat and look for any predators so the trout are released in the best place possible.
Sara Richards, New Hampshire
Visiting the Eisenhower hatchery
Emma Vastola, of Mount Holly School, took her 3rd and 4th graders to the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery in Pittsford, on April 12. Here's what Emma said:
Our field trip to the fish hatchery in Chittenden today was a huge success! The students loved it and Henry Bouchard, the hatchery manager, gave us a great tour!
The students were able to see young alevin and fry from three different fish species (Brook Trout, Landlocked Salmon and Lake Trout) inside. Then we went outside. We were able to see fish of each species at the various stages of their life cycle. They were especially excited to see the adult fish and see a 13-year-old Lake Sturgeon!
Below are some photos.
Here's a bit of writing produced by one of Emma's 4th graders:
One rainy Wednesday, my class went to the Eisenhower Fish Hatchery in Pittsford. It was about 40 minutes from school. When we got the met our guide, Mr. Bouchard, who would give us a tour of the hatchery. The first thing we looked at where Brook Trout alevin. Then lake trout after we looked at the fish in big white tents. When we were looking at them we saw Brook Trout, Salmon, River Trout and a 13 year old Sturgeon!
Other Release Day activities
As e-mails above reveal, there are many ways to approach Release Day. Except for those schools that engage their students in fieldwork activities all year long, the vast majority of teachers plan a Release Day that includes at least some fieldwork.
Here's a link to one of the many Web pages you can find on the Internet that describes the Macro Mayhem game.
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.