TIC/SIC Quilt Project
Here's a message from Trout Unlimited's TIC national coordinator Tara Granke about this year's quilt project.
Hello Educators and Coordinators,
It's that moment you've been waiting for: it's time for the S/TIC Quilt Square Exchange! Coordinators, please pass this information to your teachers. Or, click here to sign up and read more about the Quilt Exchange. Contact me, Tara Granke, if you have any questions. Have fun!
Each class joining the project has a simple and fun task: decorate about 25 quilt squares – 8” x 8” pieces of fabric – and send them to the other participating schools! In return, you’ll receive squares from around the country, which you can sew together into a quilt of your own (examples below).
This year’s theme is AMAZING ADAPTATIONS: how animals, ecosystems, humans, and communities adapt in and around a stream ecosystem. Really, any type of watershed-, human-, or fish-related adaptation you can think of that relates to water! Use of imagination is highly encouraged and required. :)
If you’re interested, fill out the sign-up form by January 26. Then:
1. An email confirming your participation will be sent to the email you provide on this form on January 29.
2. Once everyone confirms, instructions will be sent via email. Please confirm by Thursday Feb. 1!
3. Signing up is a commitment to make and send out the ~25 squares.
4. You’ll have a little over a month to decorate the squares and write letters to your fellow TIC/SIC classes; squares will be due out to the other schools by March 9th. This means postmarked by March 9.
New this year: We'll be posting a Quilt Gallery on the National S/TIC Facebook page, so please share your classroom's finished quilt or its squares with Tara Granke. Happy creating!
Each year several Vermont TIC classes have participated in this excellent project.
The project has many benefits. These include giving students :
Here are some examples of past quilts.
At what temperature should you keep your tank this winter?
As we've said in the past, one of the two greatest challenges in the TIC program is noticing and responding positively to the swim-up stage.
We expect that the temperature at the hatchery to be about 43 or 44 degrees on the day your eggs leave the hatchery. Your water temperature should be close to that. The temperature of your tank will determine how quickly your fish mature. That includes how quickly the eggs hatch, how quickly the alevin swim up to feed, how rapidly the alevin grow, and how big the fry ultimately become.
There are two principal mathematical systems for calculating rate of development. We use Development Index or DI. This involves a table of constants to determine how much each degree-day (of temperature to a tenth of a degree) contributes toward egg/alevin/fry development. Here's what that table looks like.
As you can see, for every day that the tank temperature is at 43.5 degrees (find 43 in the left-most column and 0.5 in the top row of numbers), a constant of 0.720 is added to the alevin's cumulative development (DI). On the other hand, when the temperature is 52.0, the constant 1.401 is added to cumulative DI to date. You may also notice that the rate of change among steps, e.g., the difference between 43.5 and 43.6 (0.006) versus the difference between 52.0 and 52.1 (0.010) grows as temperature increases (as a function of a quadratic equation).
Fortunately, you don't have to do the math. With help from SWVTTU volunteer Lorena Schwarz and Castleton University statistics professor Abbess Rajia, we have built this formula into the Temp and DI record and swim-up calculator available here. As described in the 12/17/17 blog, you should use the tab "B. Temp. entry and DI record" worksheet of that spreadsheet to track cumulative development from the first day you receive your eggs.
It's critically important that you're around to notice and respond to the swim-up stage. If you miss it because, say, your school is on break at that time--which has happened more than once in the past--you may find that your alevin never feed, become "pinheads," and die. For that reason this year we're recommending that you choose one of three approaches to temperature management, depending on when your school gets its eggs and whether your school starts its winter break on Friday, February 16, (Option 1) or Friday February 23, (Option 2 or Option 3). Many northern schools have the later break. Just about all schools in the southern part of the state seem to have the earlier break. (If your school's break falls at an entirely different time or if your egg delivery is significantly different than the two dates identified below, you should either use tab "C. Swim-up calculator" of the "Temp and DI record and swim-up calculator" Excel spreadsheet or consult with your regional TIC liaison.)
Option 1: Cool and slow (especially for southern Vermont schools receiving eggs on 1/12)
The goal of this approach is to prevent your fish from swimming up while you're away on your (comparatively early) break and to have them swim up after you and your students are back in school. Here's what you should do:
Option 2: Cool and slow (especially for north-central and northwestern Vermont schools receiving eggs on 1/4)
The goal of this approach is to prevent your fish from swimming up while you're away on your February break and to have them swim up after you and your students are back in school. Here's what you should do:
Option 3: Warm and quick (especially for north-central and northwestern Vermont schools receiving eggs on 1/4)
The goal of this approach is to get your fish swimming up before your February break. Here's what you should do:
What does trout habitat look like this week?
Winter's cold and its snow and ice are starting to cover over our rivers. Here's a photo I took this week of nearby Breton Brook, which starts in Hubbardton and flows south before feeding into the Castleton River, of which it is the largest tributary.
Have a wonderful holiday break! I hope you find the time relaxing and restorative.
KH is important!
KH or carbonate hardness can be critical to the overall health of your trout. It's one of the most important compounds to measure, even before you get your eggs. Adequately high KH will be good for your trout's slime coat and will result in more stable pH. In low-KH tanks, pH can vary erratically, which will be very stressful for your fish. Here's an article from Maryland TIC coordinator Chuck Dinkel on the relationship between pH, KH, and GH. Check it out!
The geological conditions through which your school's water travels--the bedrock under your feet--greatly influence your tank's KH. Many of the schools in my area, the southwestern part of Vermont, sit on lots of limestone and marble. Think Proctor, West Rutland, and Dorset, all famous for their marble quarries. The presence of these calcium-rich rocks in the ground below our schools produces ridiculously high KH. Some of our schools will get KH readings of 250 or higher. Unusual, but not a problem. But in other parts of the state, extremely hard rocks (with little calcium) can produce water with low KH levels. That's something we need to address.
I've pasted below an image that shows the distribution of various types of bedrock across the state. You can access this image and others at this Agency of Natural Resources Web site http://dec.vermont.gov/geological-survey/publication-gis/VTrock. Ask your students to figure out what kind of rock your school is sitting on.
Soon after you've filled your tank, you should test the water for KH. If it is not at least 150, follow the instructions on page 78 of the Vermont TIC Manual for raising it.
Every year we try to use the experiences of Vermont schools to improve our methods and procedures. We can improve our processes only if teachers and their students keep good data. There are two Excel spreadsheets we want you to complete. The first page of one, the "Temp and DI record and swim-up calculator," looks like this.
Read the Instructions.
If you don't see four tabs at the bottom, you should go to the View menu and choose the Enter Full Screen command. You'll need access to Tab B and probably also to Tab C. (We'll discuss that in the next blog post.)
Once you can see the tabs, click on Tab B. "Temp. entry & DI record." Here's what that worksheet looks like.
On the day your eggs arrive, you should enter "Arrival Date" and "Developmental Index (DI) on arrival." Then enter the temperature of your tank in the yellow column (next to the correct date). Keep this chart up by entering temperature for every day, including days when you're not around to read the temperature. For those days, estimate or, worst case, guess! Once all your fish are swimming up, you can stop entering data into this spreadsheet.
The other Excel spreadsheet, Template for TIC data entry, looks like this.
You should enter data into this spreadsheet right up until the time you release your fish. As you will see (rightmost column), you should also use this spreadsheet to record observations, for example:
At the end of the TIC season, I will ask you to send me both of these completed spreadsheets. Once I've compiled the submissions from all of our schools, the other coordinators and I will pour over them, looking for patterns, relationships, and insights. Our discussion of these data will play a large role in the recommendations we make to teachers next year.
My friend Chuck Dinkel also provided this extensive list of all the TIC tasks you can perform with your baster:
I've compiled below a partial list of lessons we've learned--sometimes the hard way--from our past years of TIC experience. If you remember these and take appropriate precautions, you'll increase your chances of a successful year.
Next week I'll publish one more pre-break blog, this one focused on what temperature to keep your tank at prior to the swim-up stage.
Is your tank set up??
There's not much time left to get all your equipment set up. If you're doing this for the first time, I hope you've figured out how to wrap your tank--all six sides, including the bottom!--in foam insulation. (Bob Wible has generously prepared detailed plans for how you can produce all the parts need to insulate a 55-gallon tank. Here are Bob's plans for doing this using one-inch thick foam board. His plans for using 1.5" board, last year's model, can be found in the Google Docs collection.)
For experienced teachers, (1) is your equipment clean and (2) have you ordered and received your replacement supplies?
At this point we are mainly interested in confirming that we have all the parts and pieces that we need and that everything works well, including that the chiller is capable of maintaining the temperature at or near 40 degrees. For those with the current equipment configuration--TradeWind drop-in chiller and AquaClear 110 filter--reread Chapter 3 of the current Vermont TIC Manual. For those with Flubval filters and/or flow-through chillers, consult last year's MD/DC TIC Manual, also available in the Google Docs site.
Once you've established that everything is working properly, follow the instructions on page 18 of the Vermont TIC Manual.
Egg pick-up and delivery
Except for the four schools that raise landlocked Atlantic salmon (and any teachers who make special arrangements to get your own eggs from the hatchery), eggs will be delivered to schools sometime during the first two weeks of January. Each of the five regions of the state has a TIC liaison, and that person should be putting together a plan and a schedule for egg delivery. If your regional liaison doesn't contact you by December 15, you should reach out to that person and inquire about the plan. If you don't know who the liaisons are, you can find them listed here.
Reread Chapter 4 of the Vermont TIC Manual.
An example of a great release stream
Barry Mayer, one of our southwestern Vermont TU volunteers, has ben helping new TIC teacher Emily Hunter, of Mount Anthony Union Middle School, assess the appropriateness of one of her nearby streams as a release site. Barry concluded it looked perfect. I concur.
Here are some photos Barry took of the stream.
Thanks for those great pictures, Barry! These can give you an idea of what to look for in a release stream. I'll be writing more about the characteristics of the ideal release site early next spring.
Hoosier Riverwatch macroinvertebrate poster
In our last blog I mentioned that I was endeavoring to get hard copies of the macro poster that some of you told me you liked. Well, somewhat to my surprise, a very nice person at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offered to send me a box of 200! That number might hold us for two or three years. I will send some of those to the Roxbury hatchery before egg pick-up season for any of our egg delivery volunteers who want to bring them to the schools to which they will be delivering eggs.
Here's what it looks like. (It's 17" X 22".)
I trust that your kids are getting excited about having trout in their classroom!
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.