Colgate’s Teacher Preparation Program Releases Brook Trout into Taylor Lake

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Throughout the 2022–23 academic year, students in Colgate’s Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) raised approximately 75 brook trout. On April 21, they released them into Taylor Lake. 

These students took part in EDUC 453, an elementary education seminar in science led by TPP’s director, Meg Gardner. As Gardner planned the seminar, she reflected on a memory from her teaching days:  

“When I was a middle school science teacher, we had our own fish tank,” says Gardner. “It was a great way for students to build community due to the collective need to care for the fish. I thought of this experience as something valuable for our Colgate teacher candidates.” 

Students have much to learn from trout — Gardner’s tank was installed in association with Trout in the Classroom, an environmental education program that sees fish as favorable class pets. In the fall of 2022, Gardner reconnected with this program to teach EDUC 453 students what a fish tank can do for a classroom. 

“My students have engaged with the process of managing the tank, understanding the developmental milestones of the species as they grow, and thinking of ways they can incorporate it into their future classrooms,” says Gardner.  

The trout were sourced from SUNY Morrisville’s Aquaculture Center, where TPP students fertilized the eggs and relocated them to a 60 gallon tank in Colgate’s Educational Studies Lounge. TPP student Sophie Shaffer, who will graduate with her master’s degree in childhood education this month, was one integral member of the trout-raising team. 

“After we got our eggs and set up the tank, seeing the growth process was so rewarding,” says Shaffer. “When the trout hatched out of their egg sacs, I was fascinated by their birth.”

Then came the big release. Standing on the Willow Path bridge, Gardner and her students released 75 of these finger-sized trout into Taylor Lake. The species is both native and precious to eastern North America, inclusive of the Hamilton, N.Y, region.

“The survival rate of trout is very low from an egg form up to the size that we’re releasing them, which is about the size of your finger,” says Gardner. “This is a symbolic commitment in understanding our role as stewards of ecosystems in our area.”

The release was a big splash for TPP students such as Shaffer.

“I felt really proud releasing the trout,” says Shaffer. “Something I look forward to in my own classroom is creating a big project — something that my students can see through.”