Schedule your Release Day!
TIC programs generally release their trout in the second half of May or the first two weeks of June. So it's time to get serious about planning Release Day. In this and future blogs, I'll address the four questions that have to be considered when thinking about Release Day:
On the subject of WHAT
First-time TIC teachers should watch a few of the Release Day videos we have on this Web site (click link to access a page of RD videos). Here's one example of such a video, but there are many more.
Release Days can range from simple, 20-minute long events to four-hour long programs that include several different fieldwork activities. Chapter 9 of the current VTTIC Manual describes a "sample agenda" for a TIC release day.
Schools that take the brief approach to Release Day are typically those that have engaged their students in fieldwork all year long. For example, Guy Merolle, science teacher at my local school, Castleton Village School, enjoys the luxury (because of the proximity of a nearby trout stream) of having his kids doing work in the Castleton River, just north of CVS, from August to June.
When the end of the TIC program approaches, Guy doesn't need to provide additional fieldwork opportunities for his students, so he embeds the release of their fish into an annual service project that the whole school performs at Lake Bomoseen State Park. All the kids are transported to their release site. Guy and some students make a few speeches; they put their fry into a tributary of the Castleton River; everybody cheers; and then they get back on the buses and go on to Lake Bomoseen, where they pull water chestnuts or some other invasive species. A great Release Day for CVS!
But most schools don't have the option of year-round fieldwork, so they choose to augment the release of their fish with fieldwork activities. Here's a list of activities that many Vermont schools have included in past Release Days.
You can find details on how to conduct these various activities (a) in our VTTIC Google Docs folder, (b) at the national TIC Web site, or (c) on the Internet. Before you get committed to an ambitious, exciting plan for Release Day, however, make sure you can recruit the volunteers you'll need. I'll address the question of WHO can help with your RD in my next blog.
If I've listed above an activity you'd like to use on your Release Day and you can't find details on how to conduct it, let me know and I'll provide instructions or a description of the activity.
Think about TRANSPORTATION
Except for those few schools who can walk their kids to a local stream--lucky you!--just about everyone else has to arrange transportation. At a private school that might mean parent cars, but usually it means scheduling a school bus. Occasionally, at a school with a really tight budget, it might even mean fundraising (or finding a donor) to cover the cost of the bus.
Red Fox School
I was able to visit Sarah Dube, at the Red Fox School, a few weeks ago. While there, I got to see the impressive stand that a grandparent built. Here are some pictures I took that day of the stand, trout art, and a step stool that's perfect for looking into and working on a tall tank. I found a folding two-step Cosco-brand version available at Walmart here for $25.27.
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.