1999, the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited opened its first in-school trout hatchery program - later to become known nationally as Trout in the Classroom - at Wilton High School.
More than a decade later, the chapter's main education program has grown to include 7 separate Trout in the Classroom tanks in 5 different schools in 4 towns in lower Fairfield County. Students from Brunswick Academy in Greenwich, Domus Trailblazers Academy in Stamford, New Canaan Country Day and Saxe Midddle School in New Canaan and, of course, Wilton High School all share the same high-quality, hands-on interaction with their environment thanks to the Mianus Chapter.
Over the years, hundreds of students have learned important lessons about life cycles, watersheds, stream ecology and the importance of cold, clean and abundant sources of freshwater in our local rivers and streams. By raising and releasing their trout into the local rivers, the students make real connections between the lessons learned in the classroom and the world around them.
Students raise trout in hatchery tanks in their school
All grown up, the trout are prepared for release
Each fall, the Mianus Chapter delivers a batch of fertilized trout eggs to the eagerly awaiting students. Weeks before, the students began preparing their trout tank - checking water temperature, oxygen and pH levels and more to ensure they were ready.
A short time later, the student's gather around the tanks in their classroom in hushed silence as the trout begin to hatch. They watch as the young smolts grow, initially feeding off their yolks sacs but later darting to the surface to take the small food shavings the students provide.
As the fish grow, so too does the students' knowledge of the lives of trout and the fragile balance in the environment needed to keep them healthy and strong. Some students - depending on their age - also spend time in the field learning about underwater insects, sampling water and soil quality around the stream or even touring a local harbor to see how the health of a local river impacts the health of Long Island Sound.
As the spring and the school year come to a close, the students and their trout - now anywhere from 1 to 3 inches - take a field trip to a nearby river where they say their final good-byes and release the fish they have nurtured into the waiting waters.
Juvenile trout can be from 1 to 3 inches at release time
Released trout colors darken shortly after release