By BILL ZIEGLER
For The Daily News
CRYSTAL FALLS - This year, Erich Ziegler's Crystal Falls Forest Park Science classes participated again in the school's Trout in the Classroom Project.
The trout were planted in nearby Fortune Trout Pond. Stocking the 3- to 5-inch long trout fingerlings culminated a unique classroom experience where rainbow trout eggs were obtained and then hatched out in the classroom last fall.
Each student got the opportunity to plant a trout they helped raise. The resulting trout fingerlings were reared in a large chilled aquarium in the classroom throughout the winter and spring.
This project featured the sixth grade science class, although several of Ziegler's science classes from 6th up through the 12th grade participated in the rearing.
The DNR offers support for Chinook salmon in the classroom, although they do not have any program for trout.
Ziegler thought that trout would be more relevant to the students at Forest Park, since they are surrounded by nearby blue ribbon trout streams and good trout lakes. Most of his students fish for trout but do not get the opportunity to go out on Lake Michigan to fish for Chinook salmon. With austere budgets, the bus ride for the students to help plant the fingerlings for a long distance (to Great Lakes) would also be cost prohibitive.
Ziegler obtained funding for this project from Wildlife Unlimited of Iron County.
Ziegler developed his own trout curriculum to allow the students to learn all the aspects of raising trout and then maintaining local trout fisheries.
The students thoroughly enjoyed this project and it helped them develop a life- long ecological appreciation and sense of resource stewardship. Fortune Trout Pond was developed by the DNR and local sports groups as a youth- oriented easily accessible trout fishery.
It seems appropriate, then, that students reared trout to put back into this popular trout fishery.