Pupils ready to release trout

On May 27, approximately 225 students and teachers will convene at the Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson to participate in the third annual Trout in the Classroom Field Day.

Seven of the Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex county schools that have raised native New Jersey brook trout from eggs will release their fingerlings into the Toms River.

The students have been feeding, monitoring water temperatures, testing for pH and adjusting chemical levels since the eggs were delivered to their schools in October 2009. The fingerlings are now about 3 to 4 inches long and it is time for them to be released into the wild, according to a press release. After releasing their trout as the first event of the day, the students will then participate in soil, water, forestry and trout life activities.

Watching trout hatch from eggs and raising them has generated enthusiasm among the students and helped them develop a sense of stewardship toward fish and wildlife. For example, students have learned how nonpoint-source pollution impacts trout habitat and water quality and that students can help prevent such pollution, according to the press release.

Schools scheduled to attend Trout in the Classroom Field Day include: South River Middle School, Eisenhower Middle School (Freehold Township), Berkeley Township Elementary School, Stafford Intermediate School, New Egypt High School (Plumsted), Warnsdorfer Elementary School (East Brunswick) and Barkalow Middle School (Freehold Township).

The Freehold Soil Conservation District and the Ocean County Soil Conservation District have provided 18 schools and one environmental center with the necessary equipment (valued at $1,000 per setup) to launch their Trout in the Classroom programs. The districts work in partnership with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited, a national nonprofit organization with local chapters.