A different kind of fish release at Nisbet Pond

About 75 rainbow trout were released into Nesbit Trout Pond on Tuesday, June 2 to conclude this year’s Riverside Outdoor Education Program’s FinS (Fish in Schools) program.

It was a different conclusion than everyone hoped for but a project between the Riverside Public School Outdoor Education Program released 75 rainbow trout in Nisbet Trout Pond on Tuesday, June 2.

When the fish were released they wandered away as a group when they usually stuck around the shore of the pond before leaving.

“The fish were happy to get out of lockdown just like us,” Jordan Holmen the outdoor education teacher at Riverside said.

The Riverside Outdoor Education is part of the FinS (Fish in Schools) program which is a chance for local schools to partner with their local Wildlife Federation. This is the program’s fourth year at Riverside.

Holmen explained that a program like his is important during these interesting times in education since schools closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s even more vital in a year like this because a lot of these extras sometimes get put off to the side and canceled and now is the time when mental health stuff and outdoors is more at peace than ever for kids,” Holmen said.

The program provides students with a firsthand look at fish and aquatic habitats in their classroom. The program involves raising trout from eggs to fry before releasing them in a provincially-stocked waterbody like Nisbet.

The program began early in 2020 and the school closure took away a majority of watching the fish grow.

“Schools closed and the program would just be really getting off the ground and the eggs would have just hatched. That is a bit disappointing but it is what it is,” Don Erhardt of the Prince Albert Wildlife Federation said.

In January students received 100 fish eggs to raise from the hatchery located in Fort Qu’Appelle. The Wildlife Federation assisted with the associated costs.

Over the following three to four months students care for their fish by monitoring and maintaining the conditions required for their trout to thrive.

The program is a project of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and the Prince Albert federation sees it as a chance to learn about biology, have some fun and watch the fish grow.

‘”So it’s a good opportunity for kids to see what happens in nature and this replicates what has been going on and we are naturally laying eggs and hatching them and so on.” Erhardt explained.

Both Holmen and Erhardt see the partnership as fruitful and an opportunity to expand how students learn.

“It’s a good partnership the schools are running outdoor education programs and it is a good opportunity for kids to participate in something like this and the opportunity to get outdoors and then do some of these kinds of things for sure,” Erhardt said.

“It’s a multitude of reasons. It’s good to connect learning to the land for the First Nation’s perspective at our school and environmental stewardship and connecting what we learn in a textbook to the real world. So it is so nice to have that as an actual live piece,” Holmen explained.

Usually students are part of the release, but this year it was different.

“It is sad that the kids aren’t here with us. It is obviously a critical piece with this whole thing but we made it work in our circumstances. So we are just glad that they were able to have the first piece of it right,” Holmen said.