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Randolph-Henry science teacher reels in fish grant

Erin Small, the earth and environmental science teacher at Randolph-Henry High School, brings a new first-of-its-kind program to the high school this year.

Small is the recipient of the Trout in the Classroom Grant funded by Trout Unlimited of Lynchburg which will enable her students to raise and release brook trout back into their natural watershed.

Trout Unlimited awarded the $1,200 kit needed to start the program at Randolph-Henry High School. Also, the Randolph-Henry Class of 1968 funded the new aquarium that houses the brook trout eggs.

“This species of trout is the only native trout to Virginia, and programs such as this one will assist the species in maintaining a sustainable population,” Small said.

According to Small, she received 130 trout eggs on Sept. 30, and it will take 31 days from the time of fertilization for the brook trout eggs to hatch in 50-degree water.

Small said students would be monitoring and testing pH, high-level pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and temperature levels.

“They will also assist in water changes, tank cleanings, and bacteria monitoring,” Small said. “In the spring, students will assist in the release of the fish in an appropriate trout stream.”

Small said her personal interest in trout, fly fishing, and aquatic ecosystems spurred her to participate in the Trout in the Classroom program.

“It is my hope that my enthusiasm for the project will lead to increased student interest in the trout,” she said. “I believe that the students will gain a greater understanding of the importance of wise ecosystem management, as well as a deeper knowledge of freshwater ecology, through their participation in this project.”

Exposing students to the only native Trout of Virginia will help them realize the importance of habitat conservation said Small. “Many of the students in the class will have not ever seen a trout, or even a live fish, up close before,” she said. “It is my hope that a group of students participating in the release of the trout in the spring would enable many of them to visit a mountain stream environment that they have never seen before. Through participation in this program, students will gain a unique appreciation for and perspective on Virginia’s only native trout species.”