Holly River State Park is a popular destination for fishermen. But on Friday, students from Rock Cave Elementary and Buckhannon Academy Elementary Schools spent the day putting trout back in the river. The trout stocking is part of the schools' "Trout in the Classroom" program, which teaches students trout biology.
"I've learned how trout have, how you can test the water for trout and they can live, so they don't suffocate when the oxygen dissolves," said Taylor Howard, a Rock Cave Elementary School student.
Rock Cave Elementary principal Amanda Craig said this hands-on approach is a more effective teaching method.
"We can talk about fish, and we can eat fish," Craig said. "But we don't really understand and can appreciate the life cycle, and we do that because we have them from eggs, and when they become the fingerlings, and we're feeding. We're checking pH everyday, we're checking ammonia levels. They have to be fed and maintained for months.
While the program is an effective teaching method, one fisheries biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said the benefits extend beyond the classroom.
"It emphasizes not only the biology of the stream, but also the importance of having clean water so you can have things living in the stream for recreation and enjoyment," said fisheries biologist James Walker.
Trout Unlimited is an organization devoted to preserving fish habitats. It helped start "trout in the classroom," and one representative said it can have a lasting effect on the students.
"It's always rewarding to work with the kids. We figure that if we get one or two that stick with it, we've accomplished one thing," said Trout Unlimited's Joe Crowder.