Deep in Trout

I am in awe of nature. The life cycles of millions of species seems to flow so effortlessly. Growing up in Montana hiking in parks and forests and fishing in streams, rivers and lakes I had no idea all of the complex interactions taking place around me. Through the Trout in the Classroom program at Fountain Rock Park, I have learned how much work it is to try to recreate nature in captivity. I feel passionately about the Mid-Atlantic Trout in the Classrooms mission to introduce students to cold water conservation in order to make them better protectors and advocates for clean and healthy waterways.

trout-eggs
In 2015 I had my initial training to be part of the Trout in the Classroom Project. We successfully raised about 124 trout from egg to release. In 2016 I took an additional training session to better assist with the 2016-17 Trout in the Classroom Project. On December 16, 2016 Fountain Rock took delivery of our eyed eggs for the current program. The eggs began to hatch before Christmas. The sac-alevin have absorbed their sacs and have just been released into the tank.

Each year schools all over the state of Maryland and the country take part in the Trout in the Classroom Project. Under teacher supervision, students set up a tank with a chiller, bubbler and filter. They carefully de-chlorinate the water and add beneficial bacteria to prepare for their special delivery of eyed trout eggs. Delivery day means carefully tempering the water and placing the eyed eggs in a basket to monitor their health. Students test the water, perform tank maintenance and monitor the eggs until they hatch into sac-alevin.20161230_133005-003 After hatching the alevin absorb their yolk sack while growing into all of their fishy features. They learn how to swim up to get food before being released from their nursery basket into the tank.  Students learn about the very specific stream requirements wild trout need to survive and thrive and the importance of trout to the greater food web. Students raise their trout to the parr stage and eventually release them, usually in May, into
pre-approved streams.

The Trout in the Classroom tank at Fountain Rock Park is located in the Nature Center. Since we are a nature center and not a school, the program is run by volunteers and students from our Nature Academy and Big Outdoors classes. We have special releases for our student helpers and the public in early June. We also keep a small number of trout over the summer to be cared for by our summer camp participants. The final release of trout is the last week of camp. The nature center is open to the public 10-4 Saturdays and 1-4 Sundays so anyone can come observe little trout growing.

~Monica Wenzel

Trout in the Classroom Volunteer

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