Fry Transfer Day in southern Vermont: one hundred sixty-one miles, 79 fry, six school visits, and dozens of happy kids!
A busy day in celebration of TIC generosity
[I write this on the day when the Google doodle honors George Peabody, considered the "father of modern philanthropy." In this blog you'll read about many other philanthropic individuals.]
How about this month! If we get one more March snowstorm, I know a few people in my life who will be pulling out their suitcases.
It was quite beautiful though as I drove east and then south and then north, then east, then north and northwest, then northwest again before driving back east to my home. Most of my travels were on fairly well plowed roads, but I did put in a dozen miles or so in the hilly backcountry on snow-covered dirt. Thanks, GPS Lady!
After six school visits, 79 brook trout fry were redeployed from four donor schools to two schools that suffered TIC tragedies in recent days.
Something similar either has happened or shortly will be happening up north, as Bob Wible performs his own version of the Tank Resupply Iditarod. (Send pictures if you have them, Bob.)
Here's a picture of one of the great groups of donors, Fisher Elementary School teacher Charlie Cummings and his 3rd graders.
Charlie's fry went to 20 very happy Ludlow Elementary School 4th graders. Below is a picture of most of the Ludlow students after getting their replacement fish. Lisa is the taller one in the back row with long hair. Community volunteer Kathy Ehlers is on the left in the red and black plaid. Every TIC school should have a generous community volunteer like Kathy. She is amazing!
After dropping off Charlie's donations in Ludlow, my next stop was to pick up fry at Pat Bowen's 5th grade classroom at Wallingford Elementary School. As it happened, the class's celebration of "Pi Day" had been rescheduled because of the snow, so I entered Pat's room to find a table full of beautiful homemade pies. Since my hectic circuit of southern Vermont TIC schools left no time for lunch, I was in luck! You can see Pat on the right in the back row of the group photo.
From Wallingford, I drove down Route 7 to Currier Memorial School in Danby, where Michael Luzader's 5th graders were watching a special movie. Without disturbing the rapt students, in the dim light of the darkened classroom Michael netted 15 healthy fry to add to the batch I'd be taking to Fair Haven Grade School. I had to take the container to the window so Michael could count them.
The route from Currier to Poultney High School was both the prettiest part of the trip but also the stretch where my 4Runner's four-wheel drive was most needed. My failure to warn PHS science teacher Kaitlin Grote that I'd be coming--my bad!--meant that I was unable to collect the 15 fry that her class had offered to FHGS, but I still had 25 to give Amy Wright at Fair Haven. And Kaitlin and her students need to be acknowledged for their generosity.
I am so grateful to those teachers and students who volunteered to donate fry to their peer TIC schools. We all know, or can imagine, how hard it is to lose a tank full of fish. And, equally, we appreciate how valuable it is for a class of students to be able to accrue the educational benefits of seeing the program through to its exciting conclusions.
Here are a few more pictures from the day.
Two critical lessons from these tragedies
Here's what a GFI outlet looks like. Don't use them!
A couple of more brief reports
Bob Wible relayed this report from Lisa Windhausen at Browns River Middle School:
They're doing well! We lost several this week...probably those that didn't learn to feed. Our total loss is 16.5, that we know of. The 0.5 is because we have a 2-headed one this year! and one of the heads recently died! The other is still going!
Way to go, Lisa!
Duane Pierson, of Moretown Elementary School, sent this e-mail message:
Moretown has had great success with swim-up and feeding. But we are getting concerned that our nitrate levels have increased over the past two weeks. From 0 ppm to around 20 ppm then an increase to 80 + ppm last Friday. We performed two 5 gallons and one 10 gallon water change since last week adding Special Blend 60 ml on Friday and Sunday. Today testing results still show a high level of Nitrate in the water 80 + ppm .... fish seem great and very active. Any advice?
I assured Duane that high nitrate levels are rarely a very serious problem (not so for ammonia and nitrite!!) In fact, last year some schools with much higher levels than Moretown is seeing did fine. The best way to lower nitrate levels is through siphoning and water changes. I also said that we no longer recommend the use of Special Blend.
If you don't know how to siphon your tank, here's a short instructional video. I should warn you, however, that we urge TIC practitioners to KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE TANK. That's why you'll find a photo on page 76 of the current TIC Manual that shows how Chuck Dinkel has attached the "business end" of the siphon to a piece of wood long enough to give you access to the bottom of the tank. A yard stick would certainly work. (PS: I'd love it if some Vermont TIC teacher or student would make a better instructional video and post it to YouTube.)
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.