Trout in the Classroom is a national program designed to help school kids learn about the value of aquatic environments, the balance that must be met to maintain and preserve fisheries and aquatic habitats, and how their personal actions affect these valuable resources. In Marin, the program is a school-based partnership between the California Department of Fish and Game, Marin’s public and private schools, Trout Unlimited, and MMWD. The program gives children the opportunity to raise and learn about the life history and habitat requirements of rainbow trout and salmon. Aquariums are set up in classrooms, trout eggs are delivered to each class (provided by the local Fish and Game hatchery), the eggs develop and hatch, and the kids raise the baby fish for about two months, until they grow to fingerling size. Then the kids take a field trip to MMWD’s Lake Lagunitas Picnic Area where they release the fish into a stream that flows between Lake Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Reservoir.
The program in Marin has been running for five years and has grown from 24 classes in 2006 to 55 classes in 2010, with well over 500 kids participating. It is coordinated by Fish and Game’s Fishing-in-the-City staff. Trout Unlimited volunteers do the brunt of the work with the classes by setting up and checking on the aquariums and acting as mentors to the teachers and students.
MMWD helped purchase the aquariums and chillers for the classrooms, and district staff have assisted with the program. MMWD’s fishery biologists provide training to the teachers, giving them a presentation on salmon and trout ecology. They also help to coordinate the fish release field trips, which is a highlight of the year. Seeing the elementary school kids give names to the fish, recite poems they have written for the fish, and talk about what they have learned through the experience is a real thrill and equally as memorable for us as it is for the kids.
To learn more, click here to watch a video about the program produced by Trout Unlimited.