NJ: Trout in the classroom program offers New Jersey students and appreciation of nature and conservation

┬áTRENTON –The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is inviting schools and teachers statewide to incorporate an exciting outdoors program into their classrooms, as part of a multi-faceted curriculum offering that can help develop a respect and better understanding of New Jersey’s expansive natural offerings and the importance of conservation.

The Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a science-based program that teaches children about conservation through a hands-on approach to learning. Schools across New Jersey receive brook trout eggs in mid-October from the division’s Pequest Trout Hatchery in Warren County. Students then hatch and raise the trout, monitor water quality, learn fish biology and anatomy, and much more. At the end of the school year, the trout are released into selected approved streams.

“Raising trout is a hands-on activity that engages students and helps to connect them to real-life water quality and fish and wildlife issues and problems, and inspires them to seek solutions,” said Dave Chanda, Director of the State Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Watching fish hatch from eggs and develop from fry to fingerlings generates enthusiasm among students, and helps them develop caring attitudes about fish species and their habitats, as well as a conservation ethic.”

The Trout in the Classroom program has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, fine arts, mathematics and language arts, and is unique in that it allows teachers to tailor the program to fit their curricular needs. There is an activity guide provided for teachers that is correlated to NJ State Science Core Curriculum Standards at the middle school level, though classes ranging from pre-school through college levels also can participate in the program.

“As a biology teacher, providing students with the opportunity to care for and observe the growth and development of an animal we study is priceless,” said Wendy Towers, a science teacher at the Jefferson Township Middle School in Morris County. “At the same time, it gives the students the opportunity to take responsibility for the care and maintenance of the trout, which I feel is an extremely important life skill.”

Currently, 119 schools in urban, suburban and rural areas and more than 14,000 students in the Garden State are participating in the Trout in the Classroom program.

The start-up cost for the program is about $1,200. This covers all equipment needed to provide a healthy river-like ecosystem for the fry. Equipment includes a tank, chiller, aerator, filter, and habitat materials. After the first major purchase; the program will cost about $50 annually.

Teachers interested in the program for the 2012 – 2013 school year should act now. Tanks must be set up and running by mid-September, requiring early planning by interested schools.

The Trout in the Classroom program is made possible in New Jersey through a partnership between the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the conservation organization Trout Unlimited.

For more information on Trout in the Classroom visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/tic.htm

The Coldwater Conservation School is another DEP trout-related educational program conducted in partnership with Trout Unlimited. Students spend four days in the heart of trout country exploring cold water habitats and conservation through interactive and experiential learning. The goal of the school is to foster a knowledge and appreciation of cold water habitats that trout and other wildlife need for survival, and different ways individuals can enjoy and participate in the conservation of those habitats.

The program will run this year from June 28 to July 1. The application deadline for participation is April 1. For more information visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/conservation_school.htm

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