POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - In the halls of Franklin Middle School, Shayne Hughes’ class has become pretty famous.
"Honestly, anybody that comes to Franklin wants to come see the trout," Hughes said. "They wanna see them develop, kids wanna name ‘em. I mean, it’s pretty cool, it’s pretty exciting."
For the third year, Hughes is participating in Idaho Fish and Game’s Trout in the Classroom program. Over the course of the next several months, he and his students will watch the trout life cycle before ultimately releasing them.
"You know, my first year, I didn’t realize the nitrogen cycle can get so out of whack. And then my little fish started spinning weird and my kids were a little bit freaked out, and nobody likes that," he said. "Now I know how to do it, so I learned a lot from it, too."
Fish and Game's regional communications manager Jennifer Jackson has been part of the program for 15 years and has seen participation skyrocket.
"I started with one Trout in the Classroom program in 2005," she said. "I’m now up to 21 classrooms throughout the region, from Montpelier to Shelley to American Falls that are raising trout in the classroom."
Each fish tank and all of the necessary equipment cost nearly $1,000, so assistance from local groups like PetCo and Southeast Idaho Fly Fishers make the program possible.
"You can’t just go out and grab fish or grab eggs and think you can raise trout in your classroom," Jackson said. "It does require a permit from Fish and Game.”
Sometime in the next 10 days, the eggs will hatch. Then the alevins will burrow themselves in the rocks and hide until they’re ready to come out. Even though it will be a few weeks before the fish are swimming around the tanks, students are excited.
“I think it’ll be cool to see the fish go from an egg to a fish and then release them,” Evey, an eighth-grader in Mr. Hughes class, said.
"I wish I had fish in there all year long," Hughes said. "I'm sad it's just once a year that we do it. The kids really get a lot out of it."
During the release, some schools are also able to go fishing. "Of course" they are not catching the same fish they're releasing, Jackson said.
If your school is not one of the more than 20 participating in the program, you can visit the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello. The museum is hosting its own trout tank.