MISSOULA – Students at Hellgate High School released more than 100 rainbow trout into the Silvers Lagoon at McCormack Park earlier this week.
The fish were biology class pets, raised from eggs as part of Trout in the Classroom.
The non-profit organization Trout Unlimited runs the program, and the local chapter has provided the necessary equipment for the students to learn.
In December, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) provided the fish eggs.
Patrick Murphy, a biology teacher at Hellgate High School, said the fish got students hooked on science.
“That’s immediately what the kids always come to check on first is the development of the fish,” Murphy said. “It was fun to see the questions that arise from just interacting with the fish.”
At Wednesday’s release event, members of the conservation community spoke with students, teaching them about fish farming and fly fishing.
Hellgate High School student Ryley Wickens, who named her trout fry “Anchor”, a shark in the film Finding Nemo, said keeping the fish healthy was full of lessons.
“I learned a lot in general,” Wickens said. “It was all kinds of surprises, in terms of their steps and everything. Everything was just super exciting.
This excitement is exactly what Murphy is trying to create.
“I think it’s absolutely critical for us to equip our students with the knowledge and the passion for what we have here in Montana,” Murphy said. “I think it’s a lifetime gift that we give to the next generation.”
Murphy added that he hopes next year the class can try raising westslope cutthroat trout, a species native to Montana.