Trout in the Classroom Teaches Conservation Through Raising Trout at Local Schools
May 29, 2018 by Don Manning
Trout in the Classroom is a conservation-oriented education program designed for elementary to high school students. This popular program is growing successfully across Pennsylvania schools because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the high-level of engagement educators are seeing from kids during the program. One educator at Nottingham Elementary in the Oxford Area School District has embraced this program and made the most of it for his fourth-grade classroom.
What is Trout in the Classroom?
Trout in the Classroom is an interdisciplinary educational program for students in grades 3-12 to learn about conservation. The lessons are built around the raising of brook trout from eggs to fingerlings in a classroom aquarium. During the year each teacher tailors the program to fit his or her curricular needs. Because of this, each trout in the classroom program is unique. One of the many benefits of the program is the learning applications across environment science, ecology, science, mathematics, social studies, language and physical education. Each class then releases their trout into a local state-approved waterway, which is a culmination of learning and success in the program.
The Pennsylvania statewide Trout in the Classroom program is made possible through a unique partnership between Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited (PATU) and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). The partnership provides many resources such as curriculum materials and workshops for educators as well as technical support that includes brook trout eggs, food and assistance in program implementation. Also, the partnership helps secure funding for classrooms interested in the program through grants available from PATU.
Fourth-Graders Get Firsthand Conservation Education
Fourth-graders at Nottingham Elementary in Chester County received one lesson they will never forget. Teacher Scott Schaffer brought trout in the classroom into his fourth-grade classroom after its success at the high school level at Oxford Area School District. His program teaches kids about the ecosystems of local watersheds and conservation of such important resources.
The Trout in the Classroom program started in Schaffer's class with 200 eggs. With his students, his class hatched the brook trout eggs and cared for them all the way up to fingerlings. Throughout the process, the students are engaged in teaching lessons. These include measuring the growing fish, calculating survival rates, monitoring the water quality and habitat of the aquarium and finally learning about the environment where these trout will ultimately be released too.
The program culminates with the release of the raised brook trout. Mr. Schaffer and his class bring the surviving trout to Little Elk Creek for release and yet another learning experience. Program partners also join the class on this day to see all the hard work and lessons learned through the experience. Representatives from the PFBC assist with the release and provide additional information about trout and their life-cycle.
Why Trout in the Classroom is Important
Beyond the educational value Trout in the Classroom provides to classes like Scott Schaffer's, the program connects kids with nature and their environment. The lessons on biology, mathematics and other subjects are shadowed by the connection kids in the program get with nature. They are exposed to their local community, their local natural resources and more importantly learn how to be involved and take care of both. Kids leave the program with a great understanding of how they are interconnected to nature and all the ecosystem functions that are essential for maintaining a healthy environment. These applied skills in conservation foster a lifelong ethic within each participating student in Mr. Schaffer's fourth-grade class and all the other students across Pennsylvania taking part in the Trout in the Classroom program.
Mr. Schaffer's class is one of many great stories from the Trout in the Classroom program. For more information about the program, schools participating or supporting a participating school, please visit Pennsylvania trout in the classroom.