Trout in the Classroom
Seventh grade Life Science students enjoyed hands-on learning about the life-cycle of Brook Trout and the important role they play in providing clean drinking water to more than nine million residents in NYC.
Thanks to the dedication and coordination efforts of science teachers Tom Hall and Kate Sullivan, who oversee the Environmental Club, Westlake received hundreds of trout eggs this past January from Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery as well as materials and supplies donated by the the Croton Branch of Trout Unlimited. As soon as the eggs arrived, the students transferred them into a prepared tank and within days observed the process of a trout morphing from an egg, to an alevin to a fry. During this time, the students closely monitored water temperature, water clarity, ammonia levels, and pH to ensure the survival of their trout.
When the fish reach the fry stage after a few months, students are able to release this native species into the streams. On a sunny day in June, the fish were transferred into an insulated travel tank. Students transported the fish to the Whippoorwill Creek off Nanny Hagen Road which feeds into the Kensico Reservoir. Kim Estes-Fradis, Director of Education from the DEP, and Lillit Genovesi from Trout Unlimited met the students to help with the release. Ms. Genovesi explained that Brook Trout are an “indicator species”. Healthy populations of trout indicate very clean water. In fact, 90% of the water provided to NYC from these protected areas is so clean that it does not need to be filtered to drink. Trout are an important part of the ecosystem and it is crucial to protect the species.
The Trout in the Classroom program, which Mr. Hall has been coordinating for the past 17 years, is a great way to teach students to appreciate water resources, foster a conservation ethic, and gain a better understanding of ecosystems. It’s also a well-received activity and one that the kids look forward to every year!