Students enjoy fishy project at Holy Cross Academy
ONEIDA — Holy Cross Academy cared for, raised, and studied trout in its first ever foray into the Trout in the Classroom program — and have released them into Sconondoa Creek.
Trout in the Classroom is a program through the Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited that allows students to develop a conservation ethic with nature by caring for trout right in the classroom.
In December, trout alevin — the first stage in the trout life cycle after eggs — arrived in the classroom fish tank from SUNY Morrisville. HCA students are responsible for all aspects of keeping the fish alive and healthy, including feeding the fish. When the egg sacks that are attached to the alevin disappeared, which means they no longer had a nutrient source, they depended on daily feedings administered by the students and three staff members. Students also make sure the tank is clean and the fish have fresh water, while maintaining water quality and temperature.
“From the time the fish start feeding to release, students are testing things like ammonia levels, pH, temperature, oxygen, and cleaning the water,” said Gary Bartell, a volunteer with Trout in the Classroom. “I call Trout in the Classroom ‘science without trying.’ We learn about habitats, predator and prey, entomology, and more. But most importantly, it gets these kids outside. We have 200 kids this year over nine schools and I guarantee that a percentage of them haven’t stood in water before.”
Bartell volunteers and has been to classes all around the area, from Rome and Camden to Hamilton and Turin.
“We’re all over Central New York,” he said. “And it’s the most rewarding thing.”
Sconondoa Creek was investigated by the class a month ago as a release site for its shade, cold water, protection from predators, and aquatic insects that will feed the fish.
Holy Cross Academy students were tasked with releasing the young trout — fry — into the wild and were taught how to release them safely without shocking them.
“The Trout in the Classroom is a project that I am very happy to be part of, and I believe this is a good addition to the school,” said eighth-grader Joseph Mittiga. “In the fall, we went on a trip to the Morrisville College hatchery. There we learned about the stages of life that the fish go through, and how we are able to keep a good, clean, and healthy environment for the fish.”
Jude Jbarah, an eighth-grade member of the “Trout Posse” said, “One opportunity I had was at the HCA sportsman show. I worked at the trout tank, we had 15 baby trout taken to the sportsman show for display, we had people stop by and we explained to them what we do and what we hope to accomplish. We got the trout when they were babies and have been raising them and once they become adults we will release them.”
Luke Lohr, a senior at Holy Cross, was happy to see how quickly the whole student body came to support the Trout in the Classroom program.
“It started with juniors and seniors, but all the younger students started seeing us and next thing you know, we have the entire school involved,” Lohr said. “It’s been very educational and the school’s had a great time with it.”
Alane Foley, who worked closely with students for the Trout in the Classroom program, said, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with these young men and women on the Trout Posse.”
Holy Cross Academy acknowledged and thanked Bartell and Paul Miller from Trout Unlimited who have assisted the students on this project.
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