Outdoor Education & Trout in the Classroom

In July 2015 Minnesota Trout Unlimited began a three-year outdoor education program in schools entitled “Connecting Students with Watersheds through Hands-on Learning.”  Thanks to a grant from Minnesota’s Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund, MNTU was able to hire a full time outdoor education coordinator to run the program.  Our focus is on getting students in grades 5 to 12 outdoors to learn about the water cycle and the role watersheds (and people) play in keeping our groundwater and surface waters clean.

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Part of the program includes utilizing the “Trout In the Classroom” (TIC) curriculum.  MNTU provides aquariums and special water chilling equipment to science classes so they can raise trout from eggs provided by the MNDNR. Students learn how to sample water chemistry and temperature, and learn about fish biology. In spring, after the DNR certifies that trout from each aquarium are disease free, students will release them in the Vermillion River or other trout streams.

The outdoor education program also includes hands-on science learning through field days along streams.  Students learn about: DNR fish sampling methods; the impact of surrounding land uses in the watershed on water quality; the types of aquatic insects and other macro invertebrates, and how they can help us understand water quality; how pollution makes its way into waters; and what people can do to improve watershed.

Students also learn about the importance of groundwater, which supplies much of our state’s drinking water, including that for all of the cities in Dakota and Scott County. Groundwater is also the source of natural springs, which supply cold water to trout streams to keep them cool enough so that trout and other coldwater species can survive.

The program also includes a statewide summit, where students from each school present the results of a watershed improvement project they did. 15902455_1201364459952786_1354154440_o

On December 16, 2015 KSTP-TV Channel 5 reported on the watershed education program Minnesota Trout Unlimited is piloting in 10  schools: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3994059.shtml .

An excellent article from the Dec 14, 2015 edition of The Winona Post can be found at: https://www.winonapost.com/Article/ArticleID/46941/Trout-project-makes-a-splash.

The StarTribune did an article on a watershed education video MNTU is making in cooperation with the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization (VRWJPO), for the Trout In the Classroom program next year. It features kids from Lakeville South High School and the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, who are working on projects involving the Vermillion, a blue ribbon trout stream that has benefited from four years of stream restoration work by Twin Cities Trout Unlimited volunteers and allies in our Vermillion Riverkeepers group. http://www.startribune.com/lakeville-south-students-will-raise-trout-star-in-educational-video/338629582/.

You can find the official Facebook page for the Minnesota Trout Unlimited’s Trout In the Classroom program here: https://www.facebook.com/mntutic/