CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Northern Westchester anglers owe a debt of thanks to a group of young students from New York City.
On Friday, 125 students from P.S. 116 in Manhattan released more than 60 brown trout fingerlings into the Cross River in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation as part of an annual school science project. The project – Trout in the Classroom – teaches students to raise fish while learning about the environment.
“It’s a great program,” said P.S. 116 science teacher Janine Clancy. “The kids get to see how the trout develop and get to come up here and see the watershed and learn about where their water supply comes from.”
The students gathered near the banks of a stream at the Kimberly Bridge Picnic Area, and were joined by Carter Strickland of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for the release. Before each group released its fish, the students sang “Happy Free Day to You” to the tune of “Happy Birthday to You.”
In turn, each student was handed a cup with a fish in it and was guided to the edge of the stream, where they were shown the proper way to release the fingerlings.
Trout in the Classroom is an environmental education program for elementary, middle, and high school students in New York City public schools and throughout the watershed. These students raised the fish from eggs to fingerlings while receiving lessons about watersheds, the New York City drinking water supply and the need to protect water quality.
The program, run jointly by DEP and Trout Unlimited, helps students learn about ecosystems, life and water cycles, the New York City water supply system, and watershed protection, and how to ensure healthy habitat, as they develop an environmental conservation ethic.
The field trip included more than just the fish release. Students were guided on short hikes throughout the preserve, where they learned more about the watershed and its flora and fauna.
“The trout are the focal point, but there’s more to it than that,” Clancy said. “The students learn about the invertebrates in the stream and learn what a watershed and a reservoir is. We’ve been doing this every year for as long as I’ve been at the school, which is six years."