Trout Out of the Classroom

From left to right: Nick Halle, TU; Danielle Donkersloot, IWL; Hania Abboud, UVA; Mary Waclawski, TOC President; Daniel Cassidy, AFS, Kirk Smith, TOC Sponsor

On Saturday, November 17th, the American Fisheries Society and 75 other attendees participated in a Charter Signing Ceremony of the TIA Alliance at James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia. The TIA Alliance was formed by Trout Unlimited, the Isaac Walton League of America, and the American Fisheries Society to facilitate the extension of James Madison High School’s Trout Out of the Classroom program. The purpose of this program is “to promote awareness of and appreciation for water quality monitoring and fisheries management within the United States by facilitating the engagement of volunteers, specifically youth and young adults, in mission oriented, natural resources conservation activities.” The American Fisheries Society and its partners in the TIA Alliance officially signed the TIA Charter which allows the TOC program to expand nationwide.

Trout Out of the Classroom (TOC) is a biology program which trains and teaches students about the suitability of streams for Brook Trout habitat and introduction. In addition to James Madison High School, more local high schools in both Virginia and Maryland are bringing this innovative program to classrooms. The students work with the U. S. Forest Service, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to conduct stream analysis through sub-watershed assessments to determine local stream’s trout habitat suitability. TOC stems off of Trout Unlimited’s nationwide program, Trout in the Classroom, where students raise Brook Trout eggs until they are fingerlings and ready to be released into local streams.

“AFS is excited to work with Trout Unlimited and the Isaak Walton League of America to develop opportunities for high school students to learn about careers in our profession,” said Brian Murphy, AFS First Vice President and professor of fisheries at Virginia Tech. “We plan to offer special opportunities for students to join AFS and learn about fisheries and other aquatic sciences as possible career paths where they can help make a difference in aquatic conservation. We will be linking high school groups to various AFS Units, including Student Subunits and local Chapters that can offer career guidance and field opportunities.  In these ways, we hope to get students involved in AFS early in their careers, so that they can take advantage of the many opportunities that AFS offers for student and professional development.”