WELLSVILLE – Promontory School of Expeditionary Learning took the trout in the schools program to a whole new level Thursday. First and second grade students took off from Perry and traveled to Wellsville Pond for an outdoor adventure and learning experience.
In early January, Division of Wildlife Resources biologists and Trout Unlimited volunteers placed trout eggs to dozens of specialized aquariums in schools across Utah as part of the Trout Unlimited national Trout in the Classroom program.
When the eggs hatched, students of all ages took care of the trout and watched them grow. Teachers use the fish to help students learn about the life cycle of trout and the ecosystems in which they live.
Thursday and Friday the fish are being released into local community fisheries, ponds and rivers.
The Perry-based school thrives on an outdoor-rich educational environment that views learning as an expedition where students are given opportunities to learn. They pattern their students’ studies after great thinkers to cultivate the value of excellence and the love of knowledge.
Eighty-four students took advantage of the good weather, let the trout they raised in the classroom loose in the pond and took to baiting hooks with worms and casting their lines into the water.
Four teachers, four aids and about 40 parents where there to make sure everyone was safe.
The fish were biting and just about anyone who put a hook in the water watched their red and white bobber dive with a fish on it.
After a try at fishing, Tami Gerbich loaded up life jacket clad students into a couple of canoes and they all took a paddle and guided their boats in a circle of the lake.
Glenna Petersen, one of the teachers, said they have been coming to the Wellsville pond for about eight years.
“We used to work with the (Division of Wildlife Resources),” she said. “DWR quit doing it so Cache Anglers from Trout Unlimited picked it up.”
Cache Anglers bought some fishing poles and started to pick up where DWR left off.
Paul Holden and Pat Redding from Cache Anglers taught the students how to use a fishing pole, bait a hook and cast. Once students caught a fish, they scooped the catch into a net, let everyone take a photo, then released it back into the water.
“We don’t call this a field trip, we call it field work,” Petersen said. “Not only are we letting the fish go and teaching the student how to fish, but we have another group rotating hiking a two-mile loop trail east of Wellsville.”
Petersen said she followed her Utah State University professor to the school when she graduated.
“We put an interpretive sign up near the center of the pond several years ago,” Petersen said. “We had Wellsville City give us some money and talked someone else into donating money for it.”
The sign has renderings of the different types of fish that call the reservoir home.
“After we get the trout eggs in the classroom, we begin talking about them during the year,” she said. “We learn about their habitat, predators and even write poetry.
“About once a month we try to get the students outside for an outdoor learning experience,” Petersen said. “We even team up with DWR in the winter and take them ice fishing.”
She said by teaching them outside skills students learn to love where they live.
Mindi Barnett, one of the parents of one of the children, said she likes the direction the school is going.
“This has been a wonderful experience for my son,” Barnett said. “These kids will never forget this experience.”
She said they never did anything like that when she was in school.