Program helps W.Va. students raise trout, learn about wildlife

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Program helps W.Va. students raise trout, learn about wildlife
West Virginia students learn about trout habitat during a field trip. (Photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce)

Students in West Virginia are learning about environmental stewardship by raising trout in their classroom and releasing them into the wild.

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The interactive program, called Trout in the Classroom, is sponsored by and the and is being funded by local supporters.

The program was designed to teach kids about trout life cycles and biology, water quality, stream habitat, conservation ethics, and ecosystem balance, and it seems to be working, says Brent Best, a teacher at Malden Elementary.

“These kids take these fish and raise them and give back to the state, and I just think it’s a great program and fun to see the kids out in the streams playing at the end of the year,” said Brent who has participated in the program for about eight years.

During the course, students raise trout from fertilized eggs in aquariums and are responsible for cleaning the tanks, monitoring daily temperatures and pH levels and recording other data that keeps the trout healthy.

And all that hard work pays off when students get to release the trout at the end of the school year, Best says.

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If you ask the students, they say the program has taught them everything there is to know about raising fish, he says.

They also learn about different trout species in West Virginia, what each species eats, and about the kinds of habitats that help them thrive in the wild.

And the program has educational benefits beyond the classroom. It's also instilling excitement about the outdoors, and that often leads to an interest in sports fishing, hunting, and conservation.

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