In cooperation with Stroud, students help restock Brandywine
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Students in Mrs. Laurie Whiteman’s fourth grade class at Upland Country Day School gathered together this week along the Brandywine as the rain fell steadily around them.
The spring rain didn’t bother them a bit though because it was the day they would celebrate months of hard work.
The Upland students were there to release the nearly 21 brook trout fingerlings they had raised as part of the Pennsylvania Trout In the Classroom program through Stroud Water Research, a project that aims to teach students about ecosystems and conservation.
“It was so cool to see them go through the life cycle right in front of our eyes,” said fourth-grader Charlotte Stiefel. “I was surprised by how fast they grew in such a short time.”
Charlotte and her classmates helped raise the baby trout in a tank in their science classroom.
Each day students were given special assignments that included observing their growth, helping test the chemical levels of the tanks, monitoring the water temperature in the tanks, and feeding the fingerlings. The result of those efforts was overwhelming success, according to Upland Lower School Science teacher Tara Huang.
“Trout are very hard to raise because everything – the water, the temperature, the environment – has to be just right in order for them to survive,” she explained. Through the Trout in the Classroom environmental education program, students raise the trout, engage in stream habitat studies, learn to appreciate water resources and conservation and understand ecosystems.
Fourth grader Ben Currie said he learned a lot about how trout behave in, and adapt to, their environment.
As the students waited on the side of the river to release their baby trout, they celebrated the work they had done by reading poems and stories they had written about the experience. Then it was time for the big event.
The students and their teachers were guided by Tara Muenz, Stroud Assistant Director of Education. Muenz explained that brook trout once inhabited every cold water stream in the mid-Atlantic, but populations have dramatically declined during the past 200 years. Wild trout need cold, clean fresh water usually found in a shaded stream with many trees growing right by it. She also showed the students the food sources the fish would have, many aquatic insects living in the river.
Each student was then giving a plastic cup containing a single fingerling. They walked to the bank of river and released the fish into the wild. And with tiny splashes the brook trout darted into the coolness of the creek and out of sight.
“I think they’ll be OK,” Ben said with confidence as he lowered his cup and released his fingerling into the Brandywine.