NEW HAVEN — A 5K Walk/Run to fund the second year of a successful New Haven Elementary School project has been set for Saturday, June 7.
The inaugural “Trot for Trout” will assist in gaining the money needed for another year of “Trout in the Classroom,” according to fourth-grade teacher Shayla Blackshire, who led the project this past year.
Trout in the Classroom is an environmental program in which students raise trout from eggs to fingerlings. Students monitor tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, and learn about ecosystems.
The run, organized by teacher Amber Lloyd, will begin at 8 a.m., with registration at 7 a.m. Free T-shirts will be given to the first 100 registered for the 5K. There will also be a separate race for kids. Awards will be given to the winners of each division, and there will also be door prizes.
In addition, a benefit spaghetti dinner will be held that day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All events will take place at the elementary school on Mill Street.
Blackshire said she began the TIC project last summer after reading about it. Through Trout Unlimited, the teacher contacted Jack Williams, who told her she needed two things — a class monitor and funding.
Blackshire said she contacted her father-in-law, an employee of United Rental, who provided for the past year’s funding. From there, teachers Jacque Richardson and Laura Cullen got on board, according to Blackshire.
“I am personally a hands-on teacher,” she said. “I believe students learn better if they are having fun and see that their teachers have a love for learning as well.”
Blackshire continued, “The TIC project is a great way to enhance student knowledge of their surroundings. If we can’t take care of the trout water, then they will die. So students learn right away it’s so important to keep the tank water healthy. This also applies to our own water. It really hit home this year with the water crisis in Charleston.”
Since the trout tank had to be cleaned and the fish fed daily, the teachers took turns on days when school was not in session. And with the many snow days this past winter, sometimes the trek to school was dangerous.
Although the project is supposed to be Trout in the Classroom, as the name implies, Blackshire said they made it “Trout in the School.” Teachers called the room containing the fish the “trout lab,” and had a schedule for all the classes to visit at least once a week. Cameras were placed on the fish tank and it was live streamed onto the school’s website, so students could show their parents in the evening.
The school even tied it into their Accelerated Reading program. Teachers tailored it into their own classrooms, and when the fingerlings were ready to be released in April, it was the top students in each grade who made the field trip to watch the release and participate.
“We are trying to get kids motivated for outdoor learning; to stay active and healthy; and to keep reading independently,” Blackshire said.
She added the school will need over $1,500 to do the project again next year in October. Blackshire said the school already has a tank and chiller, but needs to replace the filter, and wants to buy an extra oxygen bar. The remainder of the funds will go for fish food, chemicals to treat the water, and the trout release field trip.
To register for the Trot for Trout or to make a donation, those interested can visit the front office at the elementary school. For additional information, contact Lloyd at (304) 593-1104 or Blackshire at (304) 593-4658.