Trout in the Classroom
The WinCres and Hiawatha chapters have started to distribute an excellent monthly newsletter called "Southeast MN TU Hotline". Watch this space for the next edition. Meanwhile, here is an article from Hotline Editor Carl Berberich that does an excellent job summarizing where we stand with Trout in the Classroom:
The end of Trout-In-the-Classroom (TIC) program for Minnesota??? What??? Say it isn’t so.
I sure was surprised when reading an email from John Lenczewski of MNTU this spring (May 12) asking for TU members to call their state legislature Senate members for support of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) projects. This was because, the Republican controlled Senate was passing its own version of the LCCMR appropriation bill.
However, the Senate substituted many projects never seen originally by the LCCMR. This resulted in that MNTU’s outdoor education program (and others) had been removed from the bill. Regardless, the bill was not passed for multiple reasons. So even with a $9 billion budget surplus, the MN Legislature could not get their work done and the session ran out of time. Wow! And when Gov Waltz asked for a special session to work on some of these items, the State Senate said ‘No’. What’s going on here?
Not passing this bill resulted in the loss of funding for our state-wide TIC program in schools. What a disaster! It had been in about 60-70 schools statewide. The TIC program has been a very important program in MN headed up by Amber Taylor. As part of a broader watershed education program, it teaches what a coldwater stream is, and the variety of macro-invertebrates and trout species that live there and their requirements. Students raise trout in an aquarium and release them in the spring. They do hands-on science during fall and spring field days. So, the important part of this program is that it teaches a very practical application of what would usually be theorical topics, which then makes it a very interesting class for students.
TCTU, with the MNTU state council, and Amber Taylor just recently, decided to be inventive and create Plan B to keep a basic program running. This new plan would cap the program at the current 72 schools (nine schools in the SE region of MN) for the 2022-2023 school year. Amber’s work on the program would include contacting the schools, sourcing eggs, getting wildlife permits, organizing DNR pathology lab testing, and providing some basic teacher training and support. It would not include any classroom visits, participation in trout releases, or any coordination of TU volunteers. This is very much not the full-time position she had done, but just a part-time program that can still function with-in the current existing program for schools.
To meet the goals of the new program, the TCTU Chapter has committed $10,000 towards the total, with another $10,000 from the MNTU State Council. The Win-Cres Chapter donated $1500, and HTU has promised $2000, for this program. I am unaware at this time, what the other two chapters in MN have promised. But this really looks a lot better than the complete end of the TIC program in Minnesota. Hurrah!! It looks like Minnesota’s TIC Program will happen this fall.
Editor's Note: The other two Minnesota Chapters, Headwaters and Gitche Gumee, have come in with contributions that raises the total available for TIC to well over $25,000. We still need to work on long-term sustainable funding, but we are pleased to see that TIC will continue this fall.
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