Local kids flourish with trout project

(Photo courtesy of www.sierratrophytrout.org)
(Photo contributed by Ed Delaney)

By Tomas Kassahun | Reporter
@TomasKassahun

For the past nine years, a non-profit organization called the Shaver Lake Trophy Trout Project has been striving to provide a rewarding fishing experience for people of all ages.

Led by Captain Jack Yandell and Dick Nichols, the group set out to make Shaver Lake a popular and well known Trophy Trout Destination.

The group’s latest adventure started on Feb. 3 when they went to the Friant Fish Hatchery and counted Rainbow trout fish eggs, readied them for transport and delivered them to school classrooms in Clovis, Oakhurst, Pine Ridge and Big Creek.

The project is part of the Trout in the Classroom Programs at Big Creek and Pine Ridge Schools.   

As part of the program, students raise trout from the egg stage to become a fry.

Under the supervision of their teachers, students monitor tank water quality, engage in stream habitat studies, learn to appreciate water resources, begin to foster a conservation ethic and grow to understand ecosystems.

“This isn’t just something kids read in the book. It’s a real hands-on project,” SLTTP director David Dungy said. “They get to figure out if the temperature is 55 degrees or whatever it is. They gotta make sure the aquarium is clean, they gotta make sure that they feed them right and that kind of thing, so it’s a great project.”

The program runs approximately eight weeks, ending with the students releasing their trout in Shaver Lake.

During the eight weeks, teachers tailor the program to fit their curricular needs, so each is unique for their students.

“These kids get real excited. It’s a big deal,” Dungy said.

The Trout in the Classroom has interdisciplinary applications in science, social studies, mathematics, language arts, fine arts, and physical education.

While the Pine Ridge program is headed by Erin McCandless, the Big Creek School program is monitored by Laura Troll and Beth Kilcrease.

“Everyone here at Pine Ridge is so excited about the Trout in the Classroom project,” said McCandless. “The entire school is involved. The tank is set up in the lobby so anyone walking through the area can see what’s happening. The kids peek in each time they go by. Even the bus driver is excited and tells me about what’s happening in the tank almost every day.”

The Shaver Lake Trophy Trout group is looking for other schools in the region that may be interested in having such a program for their kids in 2018. For further information on this group, visit their website at ShaverLakeTrophyTrout.com or call (559) 841-3350.