Education

Students are raising rainbow trout and releasing them into state waterways

Paintsville high school students sort eggs from hatched fry

Paintsville high school students transfer eggs from hatched fry into a holding tank, followed by senior Isaiah Sexton sorting eggs.
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Paintsville high school students transfer eggs from hatched fry into a holding tank, followed by senior Isaiah Sexton sorting eggs.

Paintsville High School students in science teacher Hans Doderer’s class began the rarest of projects this week— raising trout and releasing them into Kentucky waterways.

This is the fourth year Doderer’s students have participated in the project and “Our kids have learned how hard it is to mimic Mother Nature,” Doderer said.

So far, students have raised three different species: rainbow, brown and brook trout, said Bryan Auxier, Innovation Coordinator for Paintsville Independent Schools. “It’s definitely one of the most innovative projects that any classroom does,” said Auxier.

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For the past four years, Paintsville High School students having been raising and releasing trout into Kentucky waterways. Photo provided Paintsville Independent Schools

Last fall as usual, Doderer picked up about 600 eggs from the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery in Jamestown — about four hours away from Paintsville — and he and his students began raising them to release this spring, Auxier said. And, for the first time to support the student’s research, the hatchery offered the school 750 additional eggs.

Doderer’s students have released more than 1,000 fish over the last four years. Of the 1350 eggs they received this year, they expect at least 600 to survive and be released. They have released the trout in approved waters in Little Paint Creek Wildlife Management Area at Paintsville Lake and Parched Corn Creek in the Red River Gorge, Doderer said.

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Paintsville High School Science Teacher Hans Doderer feeds trout that his students are raising. For the past four years Doderer’s students having been raising and releasing trout into Kentucky waterways. Photo provided by Paintsville Independent Schools district

The students learned a lot about nature. This year, they are studying the effects that an invasive aquatic plant has on the swim up behavior of rainbow trout sac-fry.

The student project has been possible because of $1,000 in grants secured by Doderer from the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s Appalachian Renaissance Initiative, said Ron Daley, the strategic partner lead at Kentucky Valley.

“It’s pretty cool, interacting with the fish and trying to keep them alive ,” said Isiah Sexton, a senior at Paintsville High.

When talking with the federal hatchery officials about his current experiment, Doderer was told about the additional eggs that would be arriving in early January..

“We provide them with eggs, food and expertise to help their program,” said Sheila Kirk, the deputy project leader at the hatchery.

On January 4, Auxier went to the hatchery and brought back 750 rainbow trout eggs for students to raise and release in March at Paintsville Lake.

“We believe that our successful history with the program is the reason we were chosen to help with this current batch of eggs, “ Auxier said.

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