Trout are on their way to Troutville, and Karl Miller thinks that’s appropriate.
Miller is a member of the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) and last Thursday afternoon he and fellow chapter member Richard Taylor of Fincastle delivered and set up a trout aquarium at Troutville Elementary School where Jeff Hollandsworth’s fifth grade students will raise and study brookies (brook trout) this school year.
Troutville is one of four Botetourt schools, and one of 23 in the Roanoke Valley that were chosen to be a part of TU’s Trout in the Classroom program.
When Hollandsworth got in contact with Miller about including Troutville’s students in the program, Miller couldn’t resist.
The local TU chapter is also sponsoring Trout in the Classroom at Lord Botetourt High School, James River High School, Read Mountain Middle School and Central Academy Middle School.
While Miller and Taylor unpacked the aquarium, filtration system and monitoring equipment the students will use, Hollandsworth and kindergarten teacher Rebecca Boone (the kindergarteners will be “understudies” to the fifth graders) explained their interest in the project.
“This will be a springboard for us to really keep statistics and journals to follow the growth of the trout,” Hollandsworth said. Students will learn applicable math and science skills in the program.
Trout in the Classroom also goes along with teaching kids why it’s important to keep water and the rest of the environment clean, Boone said—a subject, she noted, that has local implications because of streams like nearby Looney Creek that state and federal agencies are working with the public to clean up.
Boone said in the past fifth graders have studied the oceans, and those students have read to kindergarteners from their journals. She expects this year’s fifth graders will do the same with their journals about raising trout.
Hollandsworth said students will be doing a lot of research about trout. “We’ll know more about trout than we ever thought we would,” he said.
And, to a certain extent, that’s the reason TU sponsors the program.
It takes about $1,300 to set up a Trout in the Classroom aquarium, but once it’s in place, keeping it going takes just under $70 for supplies for the next year.
The trout eggs will be delivered in October—300-600 for the Troutville project—and will come from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ hatchery at Paint Bank in Craig County.
The students will raise the trout from eggs to alevin to fry to parr, and in doing that, the TU program says, students will monitor the tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, foster a conservation ethic and understand ecosystem connectivity.
According to TU, most of the participating schools (this is the second year for the Roanoke Valley chapter) release their trout in a state-approved stream near the school or within a nearby watershed. Last year, TU released all of the trout raised at the three participating schools in Roaring Run near Eagle Rock.
The TU chapter raised nearly $23,000 for the program this year, and according to a news release from the chapter, more than 4,000 Roanoke Valley students will participate in the classroom program and will have experienced the satisfaction of learning about our cold water resources and they will have had an opportunity to better appreciate this limited natural resource.
“The Mission of the Roanoke Valley Chapter 308 Trout Unlimited is to conserve, protect and restore western Virginia’s cold water fisheries and their watershed,” according to the news release from TU, and the Trout in the Classroom program is but one method to fulfill this mission and connect students with their environment and their cold water resources.
“The Trout in the Classroom is a conservation-oriented environmental education program for elementary, middle, and high school students that has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, fine arts and physical education.
“While the immediate goal of Trout in the Classroom is to increase student knowledge of water quality and coldwater conservation, its long-term goal is to reconnect an increasingly urbanized population of youth to the system of streams, rivers, and watersheds that sustain them,” the TU news release says. “Successful programs have helped to connect students to their local environments and their local watersheds, teach about watershed health and water quality, and get kids to care about the environment.”
The lead contributor to the TIC program was John M. Oakey & Son, Salem and major contributors were the Jamison Fund of the Foundation for Roanoke Valley and the Kroger Corporation. Site donors were The Orvis Corporation, Betty and Dover England, Roanoke Cement Company, Big Pine Trout Farm, Virginia Capital Strategies/ Steve Bowery, Environmental Services & Consulting of Blacksburg and American Electric Power (AEP). Organizations that donated materials to the TIC programs included the Hershberger Home Depot Store, and all other Home Depot and Lowe’s stores located in the Valley.
The Roanoke Valley Chapter of TU has 265 members, according to its website.
For more information about the program, visit www.troutintheclassroom.org or www.roanoketu.org.