Raising and Releasing Trout

Project Synopsis

Students in fourteen elementary, middle school and high school classes in the Tahoe – Truckee area of California raised endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout from eggs to fry. In the process, they observed the trout life cycle and researched the value of this native species in the local ecosystem. The participating classes traveled to cold-water trout streams and released their fry in the spring. Students learned about suitable conditions for trout habitat and monitored the streams into which the fry were released, testing for water quality and temperature.

Adapting the Project for Replication

Trout Unlimited has developed a project model called “Trout in the Classroom” which can be instrumental in setting up a program. See the Resources section for links to information and technical assistance. The Trout Unlimited web site also provides a “crowd-sourced” selection of science and interdisciplinary lessons related to raising trout, reproduced at the end of this lesson plan, with permission. It is important to establish a relationship with a state fish hatchery that can provide fish eggs. The featured project benefitted greatly from the efforts of a non-profit organization: Sierra Watershed Education Project, that obtained permits for raising endangered species (not always an option in other parts of the country), trained teachers, established protocols, provided equipment to schools, delivered eggs, set up a blog, provided technical assistance, and facilitated field trips for release of fry. For tips on developing a program that is effective and sustainable, please see SWEP’s final project grant report, included in the Resources section. In some parts of the country, “Salmon in the Classroom” programs are sponsored by state Fish and Game or Natural Resources Departments. Sturgeon and bass raising programs are also available in a few warmer states. Conduct an internet search to see if such a program exists in your area.

Teacher Guide

Resource Packet

Download our Resource Packet to aid you in your lesson plans. Feel free to selectively use the pages you think will most benefit your students.