They’ve been working up to this event since the arrival of our trout eggs in early February. This year, 70 rainbow trout were released into Vanscoyoc Run at Camp Anderson in Tyrone.
Several presenters helped make this day possible. Pat Myers, from Juniata College’s Science in Motion program, got the kids into the stream to collect macroinvertebrates. We used them to rate the stream’s water quality. We found larva for mayflies, caddis flies, crayfish, dragonflies, and stoneflies indicating that the stream was very healthy and pollution free. Mrs. Fernandes even caught a sculpin fish as she was cleaning the net! Bill Anderson, Bill King, Scott Kavanaugh, and Carl Reed from the Little Juniata River Association taught lessons on fly tying and casting. They took the kids fishing at the nearby pond to use their freshly tied flies and fine-tuned casting skills. Although we could see the fish in the water, we were unsuccessful at catching any, but a fun time was had by all! Mrs. Fernandes took the kids on a nature walk where they identified wild forget-me-nots, false Solomon’s seal, sessile bellwort, fiddleheads, violets, may apples, red trillium, and We also saw beaver scat, deer tracks, and lots of red-winged blackbirds near the pond. All of those April showers certainly brought on the May flowers this year!
This event was part of the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program. TIC is an interdisciplinary program that introduces cold water conservation education in Pennsylvania schools by raising rainbow trout, a pollution intolerant cold water species, from eggs to fingerlings. Throughout the school year, students monitor and record aquarium water quality and trout behavior. The program exists statewide due to a partnership between the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and from the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The Little Juniata River Association is a program partner that assists the Grier School by providing support, funding, and content knowledge to help our students feel vested in cold water conservation at a young age in the hopes that a life-long attachment to nature takes hold.
Our students cared for their trout on a daily basis while learning about the life cycle of trout, their habitat needs, and adaptations of fish. On a broader scale, the students learned about how trout fit into the ecosystem as a whole and about species native to Pennsylvania. Extension lessons included: planting a pollinator garden, tagging monarchs, stocking Bald Eagle Creek with hatchery raised trout in Tyrone, participating in a nationwide quilt exchange project with the theme “Wild and Native,” and hatching mallard ducks. Grier School’s stewardship practices start with our very youngest students. We love to see where they go from here as they breathe in the fresh air and listen to the world around them calling.