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Fourth-Grade Students Participate in Trout in Classroom Program at Morrisville State College; Additional Workshops to be Held Nov. 6, 8

MORRISVILLE, NY—Walter Szarek’s eyes grew bigger as he gently brushed his hand along the shiny trout and his mouth opened in amazement as tiny yellow eggs dropped out of the colorful fish.

He had held a fish before, but collecting its eggs was something entirely new to the nine-year-old, one of more than 45 fourth-grade students from Poland Central School who participated in a spawning workshop held at Morrisville State College’s Aquaculture Center Oct. 30.

“This was really cool and so fun,” Szarek said, trying to contain a boyish excitement in his voice. “I am quite the fisherman, but this is the first time I squeezed a fish and made eggs come out.”

The workshop, conducted by faculty, staff and students in the aquaculture and aquatic science program at Morrisville State College, provided students with hands-on experience spawning fish and checking out their habitat. Assisting students were Laurie Trotta, assistant professor of aquaculture and aquatic science, and renewable resources technology, Ryan Diehl, hatchery manager, and several second-year aquaculture and aquatic science students.

Students who participated were part of a learning experience through Trout in the Classroom (TIC), a conservation-oriented environmental education program for elementary, middle and high school students. Throughout the school year, students raise trout from eggs to fry and then release them into approved cold water streams and lakes. The program fosters a conservation ethic to care about fish and their environment.

Additional workshops will be held Nov. 6 and 8. This is the second year Morrisville State College has hosted spawning workshops for TIC.

Students involved in the workshop also toured the Aquaculture Center and parts of the Morrisville State College campus. Participants also have opportunities to tour the Environmental Sciences Department, visit with admissions advisors and have lunch in the college dining hall.

“To see the excitement on my students’ faces, what teacher wouldn’t be enthralled to get their students motivated like this,” Carol Faville, a fourth grade science teacher at Poland Central School who brought three classrooms of students, said. Several parents and chaperones also went along.

Faville got her students involved in the TIC program three years ago. It is the first time she took her science classes to Morrisville State College.

“I jumped at the chance to get involved in this program,” she said. “We are so grateful to Morrisville for giving us this behind-the-scenes action.”

Soon her students will be watching trout they will raise from their own trout eggs.

“They got to see first-hand how the trout comes to be—where it started—and they will take that experience with them into our classroom, where they will be in charge of keeping their own trout healthy and watching them grow,” Faville said.

Trotta coached students exactly what to do to collect the eggs, holding their left hand on the tail while taking their right thumb and gently rubbing and gliding down the body of the trout until eggs came out.

“You did a great job job,” Trotta told Emily Stupka, 9, of Poland, during her turn.

Stupka had never touched a fish before and had mixed feelings about her experience.

“It was cool but the fish was so slimy and hard to hold on to,” she said while making a face and wiping her hands.

Alexis Darrow, 9 of Poland, was fascinated by the colors on the trout.

“The different colors are all so pretty,” she said.

Cheyanne Rollings, 9, of Poland, shared in her sentiment.

“There were pretty rainbow colors all over it,” she said. “It was slimy and I didn’t know a fish felt like that.”

Morrisville State College’s aquaculture and aquatic science associate degree program provides fundamental training in aquaculture, fisheries biology, limnology and aquatic biology. Students receive a broad-based education by exploring diverse subject matter in aquaculture and aquatic sciences. Practical, hands-on experience is emphasized using an operational aquaculture complex and a wide assortment of laboratory and field equipment.

Students at Morrisville State College apply what they have learned in the classroom in real-world labs on-campus including an operational aquaculture complex. Students learn about spawning, raising and stocking fish and managing an aquaculture facility. They also participate in the college’s annual fish sales.

An array of opportunities exist for students to gain field experience in areas such as fish surveying, trail building, wildlife habitat improvement and forest management.

Student experiences are further enhanced through the college’s Outdoor Recreation Club and Fish and Wildlife Society, clubs that promote conservation management principles and promote conservation ethics while providing students with opportunities to participate in fundraising efforts and enjoy outdoor excursions.

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options with eight new degrees being offered this fall: entrepreneurship and small business management, B.B.A.; nursing, B.S.; science, technology, and society, B.S.; journalism and communication for online media, B.S.; horticulture business management, B.T.; human performance and health promotion, B.S.; criminal justice, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only); and human services, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only).

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.