This will be the fifth year environmental science and biology teacher Cheryl Bucheit will take part in the Trout in the Classroom program; her first year was in 2007.
The program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Every year, about 40 Pennsylvania teachers participate, and not only science teachers;instructors from any subject area can get involved. The mission of the program is for students, grades three through 12, to learn about cold water conservation and to encourage continued participation in coldwater conservation, management and recreation programs.
In preparation for the program, students are currently learning background information on the trout while starting their unit on water and water conservation. They learned about different types of trout, such as the rainbow, different stages of development, and the things the trout need in order to survive.
The trout eggs were recently delivered to Bucheit and are being kept in hatch baskets in a tank she has set up in her room. The eggs must be kept in the dark to avoid mutations and the tank kept cold by a chilling unit. The tank must be kept at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit or the fish will suffocate. This is because there is more oxygen found in colder water. The students also learned that the presence of trout in a stream is an indicator of very good water quality.
In addition to learning about cold water conservation and the trout, students will also be helping take care of the trout until they are released in the spring. This includes testing the water for things such as nitrate levels, changing the filter, checking the hose connections, and keeping the tank clean.
Once the fish have reached full maturity, the students will participate in a freshwater study in April. This will give some students a chance to release the trout in the spring fed tributary Wolfe Run, which is a part of the Mill Creek watershed in Tilden Township.
The first year she participated, Bucheitís class only had 13 of the 310 trout released into the tributary. Last year, 44 of the 298 were released. This may have been due to inexperience during the tank setup and cleaning or when taking care of the trout.
For more information, visit www.patroutintheclassroom.org.