Highland Elementary Students Learn About Native Trout From Egg To Adult
Monterey, Va – Highland Middle School students in Ginny Neil’s class have been busy raising native brook trout this past year. They participated in a nationwide program called Trout In the Classroom. In Virginia, Arlington based conservation organization Trout Unlimited and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries partner to help schools start these programs.
The Virginia trout in the classroom program is now in its 5th year and has 128 classrooms around the state raising trout. Allegheny Power and Dominion Power support the program in Virginia, but each class must raise funds from their community to pay for supplies and equipment. The students raised brook trout from eggs supplied by the Virginia department of game and inland fisheries.
As students monitored tank water quality and fed the fish daily, they learned about stream habitat and watersheds, started to develop a conservation ethic and learned about aquatic ecosystems. Highland School Board member Kirk Billingsly first brought up the idea of raising the trout with Mrs. Neil. She was already familiar with the Trout in the Classroom program through a program at James Madison University.
The program encompasses a variety of skills from math and science to speaking and writing. Mrs. Neil says the students learned about the different stages of trout development, and other important information about water testing and keeping streams healthy.
“It was a really great project for bringing language arts and science together because the students also did projects and did some writing which they then presented to the kindergartners” says Neil.
While the program was primarily for Mrs. Neil’s sixth grade classes, she says her 7th and 8th grade students also helped with the daily monitoring.
“The trout tank became a congregating point for students in the morning,” she says.
Several community organizations including the Ruritan clubs and Lions club provided funds to cover some of the project expenses.
Last week, the class took their fingerling trout, that they had cared for through the winter, to the Bullpasture river north of McDowell to release them. Polly Newlon of the Cowpasture River Preservation Association was there to help teach the students about the other critters that live in the river and how they play an important part in the river ecosystem.