Students releasing eggs June 11 in nearby stream
© Kirk Starratt
New Minas Elementary School Green Team leader Chelsea McOrmond and Grade 4 student Lucas Bergevin with an aquarium full of young trout that Bergevin has been helping look after as part of the Kings County Wildlife Association’s Fish Friends program. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
Lucas Bergevin sad to see his fish friends go, but he knows that releasing them back into their natural habitat is the right thing to do.
The Grade 4 student at New Minas Elementary School took the lead student role in looking after an aquarium full of trout eggs for the past several months as part of the Kings County Wildlife Association’s Fish Friends program. The trout, now hatched, are being released on June 11 by about 40 of the school’s Green Team members in a brook behind the school that feeds into the Cornwallis River.
“I’ll miss the fish, but it’s what’s best for them,” Bergevin said, adding that he thinks other students at other schools would enjoy the experience, too.
The eggs arrived at the school in January and Bergevin was asked if he’d be interested in looking after them. He already had a strong interest in fish, with three aquariums at home housing a variety of species.
Bergevin said the most interesting aspect was coming in one Monday morning in March and seeing that the eggs had started to hatch. He was surprised and excited to see it happen, adding that he didn’t realize the fish eggs and baby trout would be so small.
Bergevin has been busy feeding the fish and cleaning the tank since then.
French Immersion resource teacher Chelsea McOrmond, the school’s Green Team leader, said about 250 trout eggs would fit in the palm of your hand.
McOrmond said Bergevin came to the library to check on the trout eggs every morning for all those months. She said the trout egg tank was big news at the school and many students checked on it daily.
About Fish Friends
Kings County Wildlife Association secretary Scott Cook said the association provides the aquariums, chillers, eggs and fish food. A teacher and a Fish Friends student team looks after the aquarium and monitors progress daily at each school, including when and how much to feed the fish.
The association put aquariums stocked with trout eggs in six schools this spring, including New Minas Elementary, L.E. Shaw Elementary, Evangeline Middle School, Glooscap Elementary, Northeast Kings Education Centre, Kingston and District School and two aquariums at West Hants Middle School.
“Some kids really take a hold of it and make a project of it,” Cook said.
He said the teachers involved are key to the success of the program and the students really seem to enjoy it. The program helps teach children the importance of clean water and managing wildlife resources.
“It’s to get them back to seeing how things work in nature,” Cook said.
The Fish Friends program used to be administered by the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Once the federation got out of it, the wildlife association got involved. Cook said it used to be salmon eggs that were used in the classroom but they now use trout eggs.
Salmon eggs are highly specific to certain rivers and don’t tend to do well when moved elsewhere. Cook said a lot of schools don’t have salmon rivers nearby and it can be difficult getting salmon eggs from a specific river that they’d like to stock.
However, he said both species lay their eggs in the fall and they stay in the stream or river over the winter. When the water starts to warm up in the spring, the eggs begin to hatch.
He said the association has a fish committee that looks after the Fish Friends program and oversees the trout pond at the Evergreen Home for Special Care in Kentville. Cook said the recreation director at the home once asked him where they could take a few residents fishing. The association decided to stock a fishpond at the home so residents could enjoy fishing without having to leave the grounds.