TIC is a program designed to allow our youth to experience raising trout in their school classroom. It intends to teach elementary and secondary students about trout and their biology, ecology, conservation and environmental stewardship. Through a classroom experience of hatching fish eggs and coordinated academic activities, students experience first-hand the value of aquatic environments, the balance that must be met to maintain and preserve California’s fisheries and aquatic habitats, and how their personal actions affect these valuable resources.

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) programs have been in place all across the country for more than 30 years. Trout in the Classroom is a relatively simple program. Teachers set up an aquarium and incubate trout eggs in their classroom, under the guidance of a Trout in the Classroom coordinator (in our case, a SBFF Youth Committee member). Together, they ensure that all of the equipment has been purchased and is assembled properly. While the program varies from state to state, in general the teacher and students are responsible for daily maintenance and observation of the eggs, while the coordinator is responsible for obtaining permits and locating a certified egg source.

The final result is an aquarium full of trout fry that is released into a state-approved body of water during a class field trip. Trout in the Classroom is an extremely rewarding program for students, teachers, and mentors.

The Santa Barbara Flyfishers club has been active in TIC for a long time. We currently sponsor two TIC sessions per year, in the winter and spring. The winter session runs from Thanksgiving through January and typically involves a half dozen schools. The spring session, running from March through May is more active with about a dozen schools participating. We support schools from Ventura all the way up to Orcutt. We have sponsored classes from first grade all the way through high school. Some schools implement the TIC program in their science labs which allows many classes to participate. Many teachers participate year after year, but we typically conduct one or two training sessions per year for new teachers.

These training sessions introduce the TIC program to the teachers and help them get started. Teachers are also provided with a full curriculum of lessons from which to choose for their particular class. We get the trout eggs for our classes from the Fillmore Hatchery. Since the Fillmore facility does not have any brood stock, the eggs originally come from either the Mt. Whitney or the Hot Creek facilities. When the eggs are delivered to Fillmore, we go get our allotment and travel from school to school delivering eggs to the classes. This can be an all-day process in the spring session. The students are then responsible to raise the trout from eggs to fry, including feeding them, cleaning the aquarium and changing out the water periodically. The fry, a little over one inch long, are released into Cachuma Lake when the session has been completed.

We have a limited number of aquarium systems that are available for classes to borrow, and many schools have purchased their own systems. Our current winter session is taking place at Marymount, Santa Barbara Junior High, Open Alternative, Vieja Valley Elementary, Montessori in Goleta, and the Cachuma Lake Nature Center.

Please feel free to ask about the program at any of the schools or visit the Cachuma Lake Nature Center to see the program in action.

Contact Terry Fernandez, SBFF Youth Committee, with any questions you may have about this great program.