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Students Learn Fish Grow on Trees

Students prepare to release trout fingerlings

"Goodbye Nemo!" Pocopson Elementary School students say goodbye and wish the trout fingerlings they raised from eggs well before releasing them into the stream.

Pocopson Elementary fifth graders raised brook trout from eggs and, on March 28, released the fingerlings into a stream behind the school to wrap up a yearlong environmental educational program.

The trout release day concluded a yearlong environmental education program called Trout in the Classroom designed to foster awareness and knowledge about cold-water conservation in students and encourage continued participation in conservation, management and outdoor recreation programs. Students in the West Chester, Pa. elementary school monitored tank water quality, recorded fish behavior, engaged in stream habitat study and learned to appreciate water resources. During the trout release day, students participated in five program activities.

Stroud Water Research Center Director Bernard Sweeney, Ph.D., helped the students understand why recent tree planting activities on the school’s campus benefits fish and other stream dwellers.

“Trout grow on trees,” quips Sweeney. “Streamside forests help streams regain enough of their natural characteristics to once again support natural communities of aquatic plants and animals, including trout.”

The Trout in the Classroom Program is supported by a partnership between Valley Forge Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The partnership provides curriculum resources, workshops for teachers and program partners, technical support, brook trout eggs, fish food and grant funding.

Others who presented learning modules to the students include: Andrew Desko, Southeastern Regional Specialist for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, who taught fly-casting; Terry Peach, owner of Marblehead Flyfisher Inc., who taught student about fly-tying; and a representative from Trout Unlimited who helped the children release their fish into the stream.

Leaf Pack Connects Students with Nature

Photo: Charlie Graham

A partnership between Stroud Water Research Center and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is helping more students and teachers connect with nature and investigate their local stream ecosystems using the Leaf Pack Experiment Stream Ecology Kit.

Developed by the Center, the Leaf Pack Experiment Stream Ecology Kit is a hands-on scientific stream-testing kit that measures the numbers and kinds of insects and other invertebrates in streams to determine overall water quality. Read more or shop for kits.

Susquehanna Bank Supports Freshwater Education

Photo: Kay Dixon

Thanks to Susquehanna Bank for supporting freshwater education with their generous PA EITC donation. Donations through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program help us make school programs, field trips, and professional development workshops available to students and teachers.

Learn more about the EITC.

Center Hosts International Visitors

Photo: Kay Dixon

Center scientists presented a water resources protection program as part of the U.S. State Department International Visitors Leadership Program.

The group included visitors from Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, India, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Marshall Islands, Palestinian Territories, Phillipines, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, People’s Republic of China, and Yemen.

The Department of State outlined the following specific objectives for the water resources protection program:

After an overview of the Center’s watershed restoration and research programs, the group toured our facilities and our experimental watershed.

Healthy Population of Mussels Discovered in Brandywine Creek

Healthy Elliptio complanata discovered in the Brandywine Creek watershed. Photo: Jan Battle

In the 1800s, freshwater mussels were so abundant in the streams of Chester County that you could cross a stream on their backs. The county was being overrun by malacologists (mussels scientists) and in 1911 the White Clay Creek in Avondale was at the center of multiple controversies regarding mussel identification and distribution. Now, only two species are known to persist in the Brandywine Creek, and freshwater mussels may be completely absent from the Red Clay and White Clay Creeks.

When Center scientists recently came across a healthy population of Elliptio complanata (pictured) in the Brandywine Creek watershed, it raised our hopes that more yet to be discovered populations may persist.

Center scientist Willy Eldridge is using funding from Dupont Clear into the Future to develop a technique to test for the presence of freshwater mussels simply by sampling the water. The technique relies on detecting the DNA in free floating cells that have sloughed off a mussel. Once the technique has been optimized, it will be used to locate other remnant populations and to determine if any of the other four mussels species that were here historically persist.

Eldridge Awarded Grant To Develop DNA Tools To Find Rare Mussels

Shell of an eastern elliptio (Elliptio complanata) from the Brandywine Creek. Photo: Willy Eldridge

DuPont Clear Into the Future awarded a grant to Willy Eldridge to develop a technique to search for rare and endangered freshwater mussels by looking for their DNA in the water.

Organisms are constantly releasing DNA into the water, such as when cells slough off. This DNA may be detected in the water for up to two weeks.