Trout in the Classroom started 30 years ago among teachers in California, and rapidly became a national Trout Unlimited grass roots environmental education program in which students in grades K-12 learn to raise trout from eggs to fry, monitor tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, begin to foster a conservation ethic, and grow to understand ecosystems. Most programs end the year by releasing their trout in a state-approved stream near the school or within a nearby watershed.
The Oak Brook TU Trout in the Classroom program requires a standard 55-gallon tank setup, filter system, chiller, water pump, and gravel. The program is licensed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and each individual school and teacher is permitted by the state to rear trout. However, they are barred from having any other plants or fish in the tank, for fear of potential contamination. The brown trout eggs and food are provided by the IDNR at no cost. The average cost to set up a program is approximately $1,200, and Oak Brook TU plans to cover one new school per year through the chapter’s conservation and education budget. There is little additional cost over the years, other than the preparation for possible equipment replacement (which is the responsibility of the participating school). During the year each teacher tailors the program to fit his or her curricular needs. Therefore, each program is unique.
Eight years and over 4,000 students later, the environmental educational program is heading into its ninth year with participation spread from area middle schools through high schools in Chicago’s western and south suburbs.
Read more on how Mr. Cory Kadlec’s Roosevelt Middle School aced its Trout in the Classroom program.
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