NORTH BENNINGTON — Students in Kathleen Backus's third grade class welcomed their newest classmates into their classroom on Friday afternoon: about 100 tiny trout eggs.
Backus's class is the first classroom at the Village School of North Bennington to have participated in the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program. Students raise the brook trout from eggs until they're ready to be let go into state-approved streams.
Along the way, students get to learn about early trout development and anatomy, habitat, water chemistry, life cycles, and food. According to the Vermont Trout in the Classroom's website, teachers tailor the program to fit curriculum needs. While it focuses on mostly science, it incorporates other disciplines such as: math, social studies, language arts, technology, and even fine arts.
The program is active in classrooms statewide, and has been picking up steam in Southern Vermont in recent years, with classrooms in area schools participating. TIC is a national program that has been overseen by Trout Unlimited. The program has been going on for about 25 years.
Friday afternoon marked the beginning of the classroom's journey with the trout. Backus and her class were joined by visitors from the Southwestern Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited to help welcome their new friends to their classroom, along with local fly fishers.
According to TIC volunteer Erin Lyons, Backus became interested in doing the program after hearing about it from public access programs and from hearing about how other schools had classrooms participating. Backus decided to reach out to the program to get her classroom involved. About 22 schools participate in the program in total, Lyons said.
Lyons said that funding was needed to help bring the program into Backus's classroom and a local angler helped the classroom to be able to afford to participate in the program.
Barry Meyer, the vice president of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, explained to students about how he picked up the tiny trout eggs and brought them to their school. He also answered any questions students had about the fish.
The trout eggs originally came from the Roxbury Fish Hatchery in Roxbury, and were picked up in Rutland by Meyer before being delivered in Backus's classroom.
The students were visibly enthusiastic about the fish as they waited eagerly for their new friends to be placed into their classroom's fish tank. Meyer went over care instructions with the class prior to the eggs being placed in the tank. The class went over the amount of chemicals that needed to be placed into the water, feeding instructions, and lighting instructions.
The temperature had to be adjusted to about 43 degrees before the trout eggs were placed in their new home, and they had to sit in containers and float on the water so that the eggs wouldn't be shocked by the new environment. Once the eggs were equalized to the new environment, they were slowly and carefully deposited into the breeder baskets. Since they had two baskets, half of the eggs were placed into each basket.
According to the Vermont Trout in the Classroom website, classes typically release their trout into nature in mid to late May.
To learn about the program, visit: vermonttroutintheclassroom.weebly.com