By Gary Wittrock
Trout in the Classroom (TIC) offers students of all ages a chance to raise trout in their classrooms from eggs to fingerlings through the winter and then release them into a MN-DNR approved body of water in the spring.
Caring for the fish fosters a conservation ethic in the students and builds concrete connections between caring for the fish and caring for the water. Trout Unlimited facilitates this program across the country. Minnesota TU currently has 72 schools and 2 nature centers participating across the state, with more schools joining every year. Any teacher in any classroom can integrate TIC related topics into their classroom curriculum. Elementary students might focus on caring for their trout, understanding life cycles, and learning about the aquatic invertebrates that trout eat in the streams. High school students might explore water chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, natural resource management and careers, and watershed geology and ecology.
In October, Amber Taylor, MNTU Education Supervisor, orders eggs for this year’s 82 tanks in 74 schools across the state. Each school will receive around 300 eggs, totaling approximately 25,000 eggs. These eggs are packed with ice and overnight air freighted to MSP. Early the next morning Amber is at the freight office at the airport to pick up the eggs and quickly get them back to the sorting and distribution site in Burnsville. Here, Amber works with her mother, the MNTU education team, and volunteers to get eggs sorted and into the hands of the transport volunteers as quickly as possible. Dozens of MNTU volunteers are coordinated and assigned schools for egg delivery that day. They deliver the eggs around the metro area and multiple outstate schools requiring a few hours of driving for some! Another package of 3,000 eggs will be delivered to the Bemidji area fisheries office for distribution to our far north schools by DNR staff and Headwaters chapter volunteers. All of this takes place in 48 hours as the eggs are very perishable and need to get into tanks as soon as possible. Amber has a well-oiled machine working behind the scenes to make MNTU Trout in the Classroom a success and MNTU volunteers are essential to making it all come together.
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