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Trout in the Classroom In Review

posted Oct 9, 2015, 7:05 AM by Mike Balogh
This is my 8th year with the TIC program and it never ceases to amaze me to see how far we have come, how much support we have and how many people are reached each year through the program.

Trout in the Classroom is a science-based program that teaches children about the
importance of coldwater conservation through a hands-on approach to learning. Through the process of raising brook trout from eggs to fingerlings, the size they are at release time, students learn about the importance of clean, cold water, not only for the brook trout they are raising, but also for the other organisms, including people.

The Trout in the Classroom program (TIC) began in New Jersey in 1991 and was known as the Brook Trout Bunch. There was one school participating in the program at the time. The Brook Trout Bunch ran for a few years, until the teacher coordinating the program moved. During the time that the program was active, the students successfully lobbied to have the brook trout named as New Jersey’s state fish.

After the teacher moved, the tank and the program also relocated - from Jefferson and then to Sparta. For the next few years, this was the only program in the state.

In 2006, Trout Unlimited realized the value of this unique program and adopted it in the hopes of making it grow. Run on a volunteer basis, the program grew from one school to twenty-three schools in 2006. The following year, the program
grew by an additional thirty-five schools. In late winter of 2008, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife began coordinating the program when Trout Unlimited realized that they couldn’t continue to grow the program on a volunteer basis. For the 2008-2009 school year, the program grew by an additional thirty schools, making a total of eighty-nine participating schools. In 2009, the numbers of schools participating in the program grew to 103 schools. The program continues to grow yearly. This year, there are 143 participating classrooms in 134 schools.

There are schools from nineteen of New Jersey’s twenty-one counties participating in the program, including some of the most urbanized counties in New Jersey. Click on this link to see the locations of our schools throughout the state, as well as the approved TIC release sites - http://www.communitywalk.com/oxford/nj/trout_in_the_classroom_schools/map/1863365.

This program exposes students to the importance of cold water from rural areas to major cities of New Jersey and unites them in their quest for understanding the importance of our coldwater
resources. Altogether, there are more than 14,400 students participating in the program and more than 10,000 adults are exposed to the program annually through our partners at the Freehold Soil Conservation District and Ocean County Soil Conservation Districts, Manasquan Environmental Center and Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center.

Trout Unlimited plays a vital role in the success of the program. This year 49 volunteers from NJ’s 10 chapters of Trout Unlimited delivered rainbow trout eggs to all the participating schools around the state – all in one day! The eggs are supplied free of charge from the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s state of the art Pequest Trout Hatchery. Three full time staff members spent about 1.5 hours packing the eggs for Egg Day. This year, each school received approximately 350 rainbow trout eggs. With 143 participating classrooms, volunteers delivered more than 50,000 eggs and fish food to participating schools around the state.

Jessica Griglak, Senior Biologist, Education
NJ Division of Fish and Game
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