Ballinderry Rivers Trust want to increase the number of schools who can take part in their full Trout in the Classroom Project.
Ballinderry Rivers Trust are a conservation charity who look after the Ballinderry River, Lough Neagh and its' Western Shores. Every year we provide Learning and Outreach to the local community about our river and the issues affecting it.
Trout in the Classroom is an annual project provided free of charge to local schools. The project helps the kids in the local community to take some ownership of their local environment. The kids learn about the river, what lives in it and how we can reduce the impact we have on the river. They visit our breeding centre and see the work we do with the local Dollaghan Trout, Brown Trout, Salmon, White Clawed Crayfish and the globally endangered Freshwater Pearl Mussel. On their visit to us they find out about the life cycle of the fish and how the freshwater pearl mussel and fish depend on each other. They get to get up close and personal to all our animals, sometimes getting a squirt in the face from the mussels into the bargain. They leave us with a better understanding of how the river works and what lives there.
They wait patiently until February to receive their eggs in their classroom. The care is now up to them, they have to change the water, check the temperature and remove any casualties to ensure that their baby fish survive. Once the alevin (fish with yolk sacs) have developed into fry we then arrange the release day. The schools "adopt" a spot to release their fish. On release day the kids look for freshwater invertebrates and learn how these indicate how clean or polluted the river is, if there's no food their fish won't survive. Then they release their fish and wave Bob and Bobette goodbye, don't you know all fish are called Bob or Bobette.
The money raised will go towards buying new equipment so that all interested schools can take part. You will also be helping us to employ an educator to provide the project directly to the schools. Curriculum based resources will also be developed and made available on our website for all schools participating and any others interested in what we do.
Where your money goes?
We need to purchase 9 additional sets of equipment for each of our schools, this includes fridges, tanks, oxygen pumps, thermometers, tweezers and buckets.
The health of the parent fish is of utmost importance so we will have a permanent member of staff to look after them. We will need fresh running water, feed, medicines and vet services. The eggs need daily checks and the temperature needs to be monitored to ensure as many survive as possible.
A learning and outreach office will be on hand to inform the visiting groups of the processes involved and explain how the eggs need to be looked after. Resources will be provided to all the participating schools in both hard and digital forms. Resources will also be uploaded to our website for external soruces to use.
Permission from land owners and access will be provided for the kids to release their fish and carry out their investigations.
Certificates will be presented at the end of the project to each pupil and also their school.
A blog will be produced to keep everyone up to date on the daily happenings in the breeding centre so that all schools can see what their eggs are experiencing, we wouldn't want any freshwater bugs getting in and eating the eggs before they hatch.
The schools will be encouraged to make diaries of their own experiences and we aim to video some of their activities.