Eggs in the Classroom make it to the stream



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BJHS students work the stream to see what they can find. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
June 10, 2009
GORHAM — About 40 students piled off the bus last Tuesday at Moose Brook State Park to finish a project they started almost nine months ago.

The students were fourth and seventh graders from Berlin. They were there to release 350 trout raised in Jamie Welch's seventh grade science class.

The trout were each about an inch long. They were in buckets, their last stop before being released to the wild at Moose Brook.

Mr. Welch had the trout in his classroom since January. The fish were part of New Hampshire Fish and Game's Eastern Brook Trout Egg in the Classroom program.

Mr. Welch bought a $750 chiller to keep the fish tank water temperature at the correct level with the help of the Androscoggin Valley Fish and Game Association.

"It's so important we get these kids fishing and interested in outdoor sports," said David Canter, member and past president of the AVFGA.

Through the trout the students got more than just a winter classroom pet — they got an outdoor immersion, plus the chance to experience the start of the life cycle.

First, in November Mr. Welch took his class to the fish hatchery, where they got to help fertilize the fish eggs. Then in January the eggs came to the classroom.

In the classroom the eggs had to start at 35 degrees, and over the course of several months the temperature was increased to 50 degrees.

Then, last Tuesday, the students got to release the fish and spend a day exploring the woods, ponds and streams of Moose Brook State Park.

Mr. Welch said he couldn't have done this without the AVFGA. The permits required to keep the fish in the classroom were one thing, he said, but a $750 chiller was more than would have been possible.

Mr. Canter said it is important that the next generation is raised understanding the AVFGA's motto — We did not inherit this place from our ancestors, we are merely borrowing it from our children.

He said the association does a number of activities in the area to increase people's interactions with the outdoors.

And on Tuesday the children went out to interact. About 50 students pulled on waders and galoshes and sandals and stepped into the stream, or went into the woods to identify animal tracks and trees, or rooted around rocks in the pond looking for fauna.

They explored around with Mr. Welch and Judy Tumosa, New Hampshire Fish and Game's watershed education specialist, taking turns in the woods, the pond and the stream.

And they released their winter project.

Mr. Welch said he wanted to release the fish first, because they were transported from the school in five gallon buckets.

The students got smaller containers, about the size of large yogurt containers, and scooped water and fish out of the buckets.

They headed to the edge of the warming pool just off Jimtown Road, kneeled on the rocks at the water's edge, and poured.

And the pouring was just the beginning; that is the hope of the AVFGA.

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