Getting help for your Release Day
Unless you intend a super "short and sweet" release day--and some teachers who engage their kids in fieldwork all year long do--you'll probably want to plan a number of fun and interesting activities on Release Day. I mentioned some of the options for RD activities in my April 2, 2018, blog and will be offering further options below. But the question of how ambitious your RD can be hinges on the number of people you can you get to help. Who might some of those potential helpers be?
Many teachers recruit Release Day helpers both from within and without the school community. Here are some possibilities:
Regional Trout Unlimited chapter TIC liaisons
If you don't know where to find the volunteers you need, contact your local TU TIC liaison. They might be able to help. Here they are:
Natural Resources Conservation Districts
I mentioned above that potential volunteers/partners might be found at one of the "natural resources conservation districts" that are spread across the state. Here's a map of their distribution.
These groups typically have staff with considerable expertise in environmental science, especially related to rivers and streams. The NRCDs also often own equipment that can be used at Release Days.
Click the button below to get more information on each of the state's NRCDs.
All across the state of Vermont you will find a variety of watershed groups. Here's a map of their distribution. I bet there's one near your school. (Click on the map to access the interactive watershed group Web page.)
Many of those red dots represent groups that have a special interest in a local river. Some focus not so much on a specific river but rather on a watershed. Here are some of the rivers covered by these organizations:
Below I've provided a link to a Web page listing all these organizations as well as others.
Here's an example of the Web site of just one of these groups.
Members of the various Audubon Society chapters around the state have also in the past assisted schools with their Release Days. Here is some contact information on each of Vermont's seven Audubon Society chapters. I'll bet there's one in your neighborhood!
Release Day videos
You can find numerous Release Day videos on YouTube, but I've also assembled a few on this Web page. If you don't know what a RD looks like, watch a few of these fairly short films.
More about the WHAT of Release Day
Tara Granke's reminder
Tara Granke, national TIC coordinator for Trout Unlimited, (pictured right) recently reminded our state coordinators about the fieldwork and RD ideas available on the TU/TIC Web site.
Click on the image below to go to that page on the national TIC Web site.
RD ideas from teachers across the country
Teacher Luke Rabideau asked this question of the participants on the TIC/SIC national network:
Any other ideas, beside a general stream study, temps, flows, seine for bugs, and mapping. Of course releasing the trout! Any other ideas for a day at the stream?
S. Hood sent this in:
Our city, Tulsa, OK has a "streams" division that keeps tabs on the health of the streams that drain our city into the Arkansas River... that have "shocking" equipment and are delighted to be invited to our releases where they "shock-up" all types of aquatics... they even let the older students man the nets. It's always quite exciting to see what pops up. We also offer fly tying demos and casting lessons.
JJ Prior, Grade 5, Keene, NH, submitted these ideas:
Similar to the post from Tulsa, our municipal water department monitors healthy streams and watersheds and helps provide our equipment. On release day our coordinator meets us at the stream and puts on waders, catching macroinvertebrates for students to pass around in observation jars: dragonfly nymphs and caddis fly larvae, and occasionally we see other trout fry already in the stream. The kids looking into the jars at the little critters makes for great photos!
Chuck Dinkel, MD TIC coordinator added:
Geo-caching is becoming popular. Invite a state or federal park ranger to talk to students about protecting and preserving the environment. Fly tying demonstration by TU volunteers. Visit a local hatchery if it is within driving distance.
Dave Andrews of Butler, PA, contributed this:
We do a fly casting station, litter cleanup, riparian buffer planting, and electroshocking fish survey with our local biologists.
Lillit Genovesi, TIC coordinator for NYC, suggested:
Stewardship projects, such as invasive plant removal or native tree/shrub planting, are always great. We have also done hike, water quality and soil testing, nature journaling, and my personal favorite: Postcards from the Watershed - where students write a postcard to friends or family describing the day and mail it from local PO.
Schedule your Release Day!
Over the next few weeks, many schools will be scheduling their Release Days AND booking volunteers to help with those days. If you wait too long, you may find it difficult to recruit the folks you need to help with some of the more interesting field-based activities.
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.