Trout in the Classroom

Trout in the Classroom is a program developed by TU to teach students about trout and their habitats as well as to learn about conservation & ecosystems.

Trout in the Classroom Overview


© Addie Meyer-3rd Grade North Hudson Elementary

© Addie Meyer-3rd Grade North Hudson Elementary

TIC allows students to grow trout from eggs to fingerlings.  Along the way, students learn important lessons about water quality, stream habitat, conservation, and ecosystem connectivity, regardless of whether they are fly fishers or not. Teachers have included it into almost every subject in school, from using math to calculate how much food to give the young fry, to teaching English composition by writing essays on conservation issues affecting trout habitat.

TIC was started by Trout Unlimited nearly 20 years ago in New York State.  It started with 4 classrooms in 1997, and now New York has over 200 such programs.  It is gaining popularity in Wisconsin with a handful of classrooms participating.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is an environmental education program in which students in grades k-12. . .

  • raise trout from eggs to fry.
  • monitor tank water quality.
  • engage in stream habitat study.
  • learn to appreciate water resources.
  • begin to foster a conservation ethic.
  • grow to understand ecosystems.


Now at Amery Intermediate and RiverCrest Elementary Schools!

KIAP-TU-WISH is expanding its Trout in the Classroom (TIC) programs for 2015-2016.

In 2014-2015 KIAP assisted Brian Burbach’s 5th grade North Hudson Elementary class with their TIC program. While this experience was a huge success for Brian’s class, he decided that he would not have the time for TIC with some new classroom activities he was implementing this year.

While we will certainly miss working with Brian’s class, KIAP is assisting two new TIC programs in our area: John Mueller’s 5th grade class at River Crest Elementary in Hudson and Jeremiah Fisk’s 5th grade class at Amery Elementary. Near the end of the school year, River Crest will stock brown trout fingerlings in the Willow River and Amery will do the same in an area trout pond.

KIAP is also assisting the Clearwater Chapter with starting a TIC program at Menomonie High School, and also helped draft some TIC guidelines for the TU state council for use by all Wisconsin TU chapters.

We look forward to working with these three new programs this school year!
~Greg Olson


January 2016  | Greg Olson

TIC Trout Alert: Egg Delivery

On Monday, January 4th at 5:30 am, I set out to pick up 500 eyed, brown trout eggs from the 7 Pines Fish Hatchery in Frederick. Eggs last year were delivered before Christmas, but the brown trout took their time this year, perhaps due to the lack of cold weather.Delivering trout eggs to excited 5th graders is a great experience, and the weather added further excitement with every mile traveled. I had mapped out a “short cut” to Frederick, that involved taking as many county highways and backroads as possible. The plowing essentially stopped once I crossed the bridge into Wisconsin at Stillwater. In New Richmond, I considered turning back with all the cars in the ditches. After Amery, I had no idea where I was, all the road signs were plastered with snow, rendering them unreadable. Google Maps is not to be relied upon in Northern Wisconsin, and cell phone coverage is spotty. However, the owner of 7 Pines, Richard Kettula, was able to talk me in when I did get reception the old fashioned way, i.e., “there should be a lake coming up on your right, after that, turn left at the lone pine, if you get to the green mailbox you went too far….”

Upon finding the hatchery, Richard was presented with a plaque from Kiap-TU-Wish for his assistance in establishing our TIC programs by supplying the eggs and helping with the health certification for our fish. He was very surprised and honored by our award and said he is going to display it in his living room.

I was able to follow my tire tracks back to Amery, my first stop being Mr. Jeremiah Fisk’s 5th grade class at the Amery Intermediate School. The fish tank and responsibility for care resides in Mr. Fisk’s class, but he wanted the other 5th grade class to be involved as well. I gave a presentation to 49 students on what TU’s conservation mission is, the history of trout in their area of WI, a trout’s basic needs, and the life cycle of trout. The kids all got to see the eggs under a magnifying glass (they all think it is so “cool” to see the trout’s eyes already) and then helped to get 250 of the eggs into the tank’s egg basket.

Then it was on to Mr. John Mueller’s 5th grade class in River Crest Elementary in Hudson. I gave the same presentation, this time to all three 5th grade classes—close to 76 kids. ( It has been great this year to reach this many students! Both schools are keeping in touch with each other to update on progress too.) The presentation was a little more personalized though, as River Crest is on County F and about 5 miles equidistant from the Kinni and Willow. I told them that at their age, I fished the Willow River almost daily when school was out, and at that time the Willow was held in quite high regard as a trout stream.

I explained why we would be stocking the Willow and not the Kinni with the trout we raised, why the Kinni no longer needs to be stocked, and the possible reasons for the decline of the Willow and rise of the Kinni. It was a very good discussion and kids at both schools asked very insightful and thoughtful questions. I was very impressed! With all the threats to our environment and our world in general, I can find myself getting down. But after spending a few hours with these kids, I left feeling very hopeful for the future.



Top: 5th grade students during the presentation at River Crest Elementary
Bottom left: Richard Kettula at 7 Pines Fish Hatchery
Bottom right: Mr. Mueller loading eggs into the basket at River Crest Elementary

Kiap-TU-Wish Calendar

7:00 pm Chapter Meeting – Annual Busines...
Chapter Meeting – Annual Busines...
Mar 7 @ 7:00 pm
Annual business meeting. Elect new board members Speakers: Nate Anderson, WDNR Habitat 2018 Habitat work Barb Scott, WDNR Fish Survey Results
5:00 pm R4F – River Falls Fly Fishing Fe...
R4F – River Falls Fly Fishing Fe...
Mar 9 @ 5:00 pm
R4F –  River Falls Fly Fishing Festival When: Friday, March 9th – Doors @ 5pm | Films @ 7pm Where: 501 Wild Rose Ave., River Falls, WI 54022 Riverview Ballroom – University Center | UWRF Campus Cost: $15 –[...]

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Kiap participants:  John Kaplan, Greg Olson, Jim Kojis and Tom Schnadt

5th Graders from Amery Intermediate School and River Crest Elementary Excited to About Project with Kiap-TU-Wish.

After a long winter of raising trout in the class room, 5th graders from Amery and RiverCrest get ready to release their trout into the wild.

In preparation for the release, We had the Bugs in the Classroom with Dean Hansen, in Amery and at River Crest.  Both classrooms are going to release their fish before Memorial Day 2016.

Trout In the Classroom Fry Release
John Mueller’s 5th Grade Class, River Crest Elementary School
Willow River State Park, Hudson
May 24th, Tuesday at 10:15 AM

Kiap volunteers helped chaperon and demonstrated fly casting during the Trout in the Classroom fry release. Volunteers aided and supervised the students when they released the fry.  After the release, the class hiked back to the picnic area for lunch.  Kiap volunteers demonstrated and gave simple, basic casting instruction.

This was a fun and rewarding activity. It was hard to tell if the students or the volunteers enjoyed it more.




John Mueller’s 5th grade fry release Willow River

Images from 2015

Amery 5th graders Bugs-in-the-Classroom with the “Bug Doctor, Dean Hanson”
From 2015

5th Graders from North Hudson Excited to Work on Project with Kiap-TU-Wish

Brian Burbach’s 5th grade class at North Hudson Elementary (WI), embarked on a new project this fall with some help from Kiap-TU-Wish.  Brian’s class has begun a Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program.

Last summer Brian was able to obtain funding through a grant to purchase a TIC setup, which entails a tank, chiller, food, gravel, water chemistry compounds, etc., everything that is needed to raise trout from eggs to fingerlings. Kiap-TU-Wish was able to aid Brian on what kit to order and point him in the direction of some online tank setup, trout care, and lesson plans.  We also worked with the state of Wisconsin to help Brian obtain a permit for what is legally a “fish farm,” secure a health certificate from the hatchery providing the eggs, and identified a veterinarian that is certified to test the health of the fish before release.

Marty Engle, our WI DNR fisheries biologist, was consulted and it was decided to raise brown trout to be released into the Willow River near Hudson this spring.  This will be an awesome experience for those 5th graders! The fish eggs were scheduled to arrive from the Seven Pines Fishery in Lewis, WI in late November.  As Brian explored the curriculum and lesson plans for TIC, there were many opportunities for some classroom discussions from some of our members.

The Trout Eggs are Here! The Trout Eggs are Here!

The 5th graders had the trout aquarium set up from the first day of class. They were ready for the eggs to arrive! Finally in late December the brown trout eggs had “eyed,” making them much less fragile for transport. The whole school had been waiting for this day. Walking down the hallways with a cooler from the fish farm marked, “Caution – Trout Eggs,” kids from all grades pointed at the cooler and whispered, squealed, or shouted, “THE TROUT EGGS ARE HERE.”

Brian’s class had been studying what to do once the eggs were delivered and the students quickly took over, gradually adding aquarium water to the eggs so they adjusted to any temperature differences. Cloudy eggs that had not fertilized were removed and the students handled some of them. A few of the eyed eggs were examined under magnifying glasses, where they were able to get a closer look at the developing eyes, bones, and other organs.

Kiap-TU-Wish TIC Coordinator, Greg Olson, was recently delivering some food for the fish, and remarked “It was great to see that almost all the eggs have successfully hatched and the fish are swimming about in the bottom of the net basket, still with egg sac attached.” When the small fry begin to surface and fill their air bladders, they will be ready to feed and leave the confines of the basket, since they will now be “buoyant.”

According to Olson, “The class is doing a great job monitoring the temperature and chemistry of the water. They love to check in on the progress of the fish every day and can’t wait to begin feeding. I have to admit, I love checking with Brian’s class and the trout. I wonder if TU would consider starting a TILR program, Trout in the Living Room. I think I could spend many a winter’s night watching the trout grow and develop.”

Brian Burbach’s 5th grade students (& Greg Olson in photo below) inspecting, studying and taking care of their trout eggs.

Images from 2015

A Trout in the Classroom Essay from North Hudson Elementary Students


Words by Lauren Scott & Rachel Rick

As we stare intently at our giant fish tank, we see the trout swaying their tails side to side. We imagine that they are dreaming of their future life in the river. It won’t be long and they’ll begin their new journey in the Willow River.

At the moment, these little troutlings have spots on their back and stomach. They might be small but we know that’s not for long! We conducted a random sampling on 10 Trout. Their average length is 3 centimeters long.

We’ve worked hard to maintain the perfect growing environment for our swimming friends. Every two days some of our classmates test the water to make sure that the pH, Nitrate, and Ammonia levels are safe. Then we add the appropriate chemicals to ensure safe levels for our fish. We also have to change out 5 gallons of water two times each week.

We’ve learned that they need cool water to survive. This means we must keep the water at the 54 degrees Fahrenheit. (This may sound easy, but it’s not! It means our teach-er even has to come in on the weekends to take care of these swimmers!) It’s a big job for our class because their lives are counting on us doing our assigned work.

Our class discovered that our trout like to lie at the bottom of that tank. It’s a little scary because sometimes they look dead. But the good news is that they are usually just resting. We’ve discovered it’s hard to count all of them. In fact, it is downright impossible because they move around a lot.

Sometimes, we have a few die. So, we have to get the dead fish out of the clean water environment quickly. Don’t worry we’ve found another use for that kitchen turkey baster (yep, it works perfect for sucking up the dead fish!).

We are working hard to do our part to help the trout population. They are important to river life. Even though it’s a lot of work, it has been worth it. We’ll be proud parents (all 22 of us) when we let them start their new lives in the Willow River.

Caption here

Trout fry have hatched!

TIC: Trout Alert

February 2015   |  From Brian Burbach’s 5th grade class at North Hudson Elementary: all the trout are out of their basket, swimming around, and actively feeding! Stay tuned for more. . .

Trout fry are growing!

TIC: Trout Alert

April 2015  | From Brian Burbach’s 5th grade class at North Hudson Elementary: the fish are getting bigger, as evidenced in the photo above. It’s awhile yet before their release into the Willow River, and they still need to pass their “physical,” but stay tuned.

Release Day is Here!

TIC: Trout Alert

May 2015  | The North Hudson Elementary 5th graders release the trout in the Willow River State Park on May 22, 2015

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