Fabulous video from Albert Bridge School. Tree plantings by TIC school. Great RD reports. Insect art and trout anatomy constructions!
TIC video you've got to see!
Audrey Halpert, of Albert Bridge School, sent me this fabulous video of her school's TIC project. It covers the whole almost-six-month-long process, from visiting the hatchery, watching the embryos develop, seeing the eggs hatch, etc.
Audrey managed to get some marvelous video footage of individual fry. Many students will benefit from watching the show. Her young students also provided a wonderful voice-over narration.
Thanks so much for doing this, Audrey and, especially, for sharing your fine work.
Tree planting work by TIC kids
Brett Morrison, of Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), sent me this report about Marion Cross School, which released its trout in a stream that the MCS students had earlier helped rehabilitate.
Here's Brett's enthusiastic account of these two interrelated projects:
Dear Joe: I thought you might be pleased to see an Upper Valley example of the synergy between the TU [Trout Unlimited] classroom program and dam removals.
Norwich, Vermont’s, Marion Cross students were back at the local dam and stream restoration area on Tuesday, 6/4, to release trout they’ve been growing in their classroom: “114 new brook trout released right at the old dam site.” CRC had welcomed them out to the site to help plant trees earlier last month. Ron Rhodes, CRC River Steward & Vice Chair of Vermont TU's State Council, wrote:
"Grass is growing, stream has settled in, and critters are moving around freely! We'll be back planting more trees/shrubs on Monday, June 24. (In all we will have planted 2,000 stems.)"
Thank you Joe, Trout Unlimited, and Marion Cross Elementary students!
Here are some pictures Brett sent me.
RELEASE DAYS EVERYWHERE!
Maple Street School RD report
Maple Street School science teacher Suzanne Alfano submitted this report on her school's first Release Day:
The entire Maple Street School gathered today to release 138 trout into Munson Brook. Chris Alexopoulos was able to come and join us and made sure that each K-8 student had an opportunity to release at least one trout. The students loved putting them in the brook and then hanging out to watch their behavior in the first few moments of their freedom.
The day was documented by Darren Marcy from the Manchester Journal and I would expect a story to run later this week or next. Darren was also on hand last Friday when we welcomed two educators from Shelburne Farms to our campus to run a study of the quality of water in Munson Brook. The students learned about dissolved oxygen levels and how macroinvertebrates are an indicator of the quality of water in a stream. Thankfully, all our research showed that the quality in Munson Brook was great and ready for our brookies. A great day was spent at the brook, and it was nice to see the kids so engaged, especially in the last few days of school.
Thanks for all you do to make this program happen, I cannot express how worthwhile our entire community found it, especially my 5th grade life scientists!
MSS is one of those very fortunate schools that has a release site within a short walk of school--actually, Munson Brook forms the southern border of the school property. As a result, for them, Release Day was an all-school event. Here are numerous great pictures from the MSS Release Day.
Cambridge and Highgate joint RD
Paul Legris sent me these photos of the joint RD Highgate and Cambridge Elementary had together.
Ludlow Elementary School
Teacher Lisa Mark and community volunteer Kathy Ehlers were all set to hold their Release Day at Hawk Mountain Resort, which borders the Black River where they've held it before; but when early on RD morning, Kathy checked the river, she deemed it too high and unsafe, so she went scouting for an alternative location. Fortunately, with just enough time to spare, Kathy found an upland tributary brook where the water level was perfect. That allowed the LES students to have a beautiful and safe release Day. Thanks, Kathy, for doing all that extra work!
Here are some photos from the LES release.
Kathy also sent me a short video of Ludlow's RD.
Mount Holly School
The ever present Kathy Ehlers and I also assisted Emma Vastola and her 1st graders collect macros, learn to fly cast, and release their fry. We had a beautiful day for playing--and learning--in an unnamed tributary of the Mill River.
While we didn't have a professional photographer documenting the day's activities like some schools, we got a few snapshots nonetheless.
The Mount Holly release also scored a nice front page article in the Vermont Journal newspaper. Click the image below to read the article.
Wallingford Release Day
Pat Bowen, who's retiring this year, held her last release on Roaring Brook. Like all the others she's organized, it was a highly successful event, with many volunteers and lots of interesting activities for the students to engage in. We will miss Pat very much, but I'm grateful to her for having recruited an enthusiastic teacher to step into her big shoes.
By the way, in speaking to her students and the volunteers at the end of Release Day activities, Pat said that TIC was the most exciting and engaging curricular initiative she'd ever used in her classroom. High praise from a distinguished teacher of 35 years!
West Rutland School
Danielle Liqouri drove her class's fry to the local recreation park while her West Rutland School students walked to the park, which borders the Clarendon River. After several activities that included a scavenger hunt, each of the students released a few brook trout.
Proctor Elementary School RD
Michael Manney, at Proctor Elementary School, sent me these pictures of his first Release Day, which took place on Sugar Hollow Brook in Pittsford. Congratulations, Michael.
My last Release Day of the year was with Emily Hunter's 7th graders at Mount Anthony Union Middle School. TU volunteer Barry Mayer and Bennington hatchery manager Monty Walker helped as well.
Building insect art
At Fisher Memorial School, teacher Charlie Cummings decided to have his students build examples of insects.
Anatomy lessons at Lincoln
Devon Schrock, at Lincoln Community School, sent me these images of anatomy models his students constructed. Nice work, kids!
2019 TIC season draws to a close
We still have a few Release Days to go but many are in the books. Send us your videos, photos, and reports! I'd also love to hear if you get any press coverage for your RD (or your TIC program in general).
Lincoln Community School RD
Devin Schrock, at Lincoln Community School, shared this link to his school's Web site, which features, right on its front page, a great slideshow of photos from their Release Day. LCS, by the way, is one of those fortunate Vermont schools that sits right at the edge of a lovely trout stream.
We had a great release on Monday with awesome volunteers, too. 78 fish made their maiden voyage in the New Haven : )
Fisher Elementary School RD
Fisher Elementary School had a fun, if cool and damp, Release Day on the Roaring Branch at Kelley Stand in Green Mountain National Forest.
As he always does, teacher Charlie Cummings came meticulously prepared. He had recruited numerous volunteers , including three US Forest Service staff one of whom was Martina Barnes, the brand new Ranger of the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes Forests. Charlie had an FES lanyard/name tag for each of us. Gear was neatly arranged, and each of his four activity stations was identified with a special sign. He got up early that day!
Proctor Elementary School RD
Michael Manney and his Proctor students had nicer weather for their Release Day at the Pittsford Recreation Area. The day started cloudy and cool but warmed as the morning wore on. Once the sun came out, it was delightful.
Volunteers Trip Westcott and Tom Culvert taught casting with both fly and spinning gear; Michael led a perspective drawing activity, and I staffed the macroinvertebrate collecting and classifying station.
One of the personal benefits of participating in these typically half-day RDs is that I can fish a stream I don't usually visit. The PES RD allowed me to "wet a fly" in Sugar Hollow Brook. Turns out there are brook trout in there!
Mike Carrano, of Pownal Elementary, Vermont's southwestern-most TIC school, is a very experienced and successful TIC teachers. This year has been another good year for Mike and his students, but for the first time ever, deep into the TIC season, one of Mike's otherwise seemingly healthy trout developed a deformity. A few days later, a second fish displayed similar symptons.
Mike wrote this about the situation:
Here is the video of the trout I have concerns about. It looks like we have a second trout starting to display the same sick behaviors. You can see at the end of the video the smaller trout’s spine is starting to get that “S” shape. The bigger one you can see the deformity.
Here's a super short video of the two quarantined fry.
I sent the video to Tom Jones, Fish Health Biologist for Vermont's Department of Fish and Wildlife. He responded with this:
This looks like a condition termed scoliosis (curvature of the spine in this fashion). In can be caused by many factors such as but not limited to water quality, nutrition, certain types of fish pathogens, genetics! The teacher mentioned Whirling Disease, but there is no biological link through the eggs that they have received! We have never detected WD in a Vermont fish culture facility. I'm not concerned about the stocking of these brook trout fry! My best advise is to euthanize the fish like this and continue with the release plans.
Being just a few miles from the state line, Mike knows the lead cold water fisheries biologist for the state of Massachusetts. Mike gave him all the info he had sent to me along with the video. The Massachusetts biologist thinks it’s Whirling Disease. That would be a great concern. I suggested to Mike that he see if the Massachusetts biologist would be able to conduct an autopsy or other form of investigation to establish conclusively what the problem is.
Devin Schrock, of Lincoln Community School, sent me some materials with this introduction:
Thanks for all the tidbits and advice you post on the blog! It's only my 2nd year with TIC so I'm finding it very useful. I'm sorry, however, that I haven't been more active in sharing our work from LCS. But, better late than never...here are resources for teaching external anatomy of the brook trout.
Here are four images of the final products.
Devin provided three documents to help other teachers lead their students in this anatomy activity:
Once your program is over, don't delay in cleaning your tank and other equipment. The longer you put off that process, the harder it becomes. Many teachers give students the opportunity to help with this.
Our current TIC Manual has instructions in Chapter 10, which starts on page 41. If you have a flow-through chiller, you may want to consider replacing the tubing if it's very grungy. Tubing isn't very expensive.
When it's all clean, make sure you put your equipment and especially the tank in a safe location. That means a place where it won't be "played with" or accidentally banged into.
Joe Mark is Lead Facilitator of Vermont's Trout in the Classroom program.
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 a parent-friend 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.