HELENA — Something fishy is going on at Kessler Elementary School in Helena.
Mrs. Molly McGraw’s 1st graders are getting a front row seat into the life of a trout fish, from an egg, all the way to a fingerling before being released into Spring Meadow Lake.
Mary Larsen, Trout Unlimited Classroom Specialist, says, "I fill the tank with the water, I put live bacteria in it, to start setting the right pH in the tank for the fish. Then in January, I get a shipment of trout eggs from the Arlee Fish Hatchery.”
Jayce Draper, 1st grader says, "A lot of fish hatched."
Trout Unlimited is a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s cold water fisheries and habitats.
Larsen says, "We have lessons on the fish cycle, lessons on where the fish came from, lessons on how to take care of the tank."
The Helena chapter of Trout Unlimited has placed 12 fish tanks in several schools throughout the Helena and East Helena area. The organization has been using these tanks as a tool to educate younger generations for almost 20 years.
Kessler Elementary 1st Grade teacher Holly McGraw says, "It is huge, I have former students they come back to check on the fish and they know, oh they're sack fry now, they’re going to be fingerlings and they check to see how much I am feeding them so just that relationship then that they want to come back and check things out, I mean that's worth it right there."
First Grader Jayce Draper added, "When they start going potty we need to release them."
From December until early May the students watch the eggs grow into fingerlings, and when they grow too big for the tank the students get to release them.
Mrs. McGraw added, "We walk over to Spring Meadow as a class and every kid releases a couple of fish, some of them kind of tear up, they were like their own pets."
Larsen says, "I think it's really important for this generation to start having a real sense of the natural world and that we are the caretakers of that natural world."
For more information on how you get can a fish tank in your classroom or if you would like to donate to Trout Unlimited visit: https://www.tu.org/chapter/055-pat-barnes-missouri-river/