Mrs. Porter's Kindergarten class at St. Michael School is preparing their fish tank for a delivery of 100 rainbow trout eggs as part of the Fish In Schools program with the Weyburn Wildlife Federation.
Larry Olfert with the Weyburn Wildlife Federation said while Radville has been running the program much longer, this is the third year of the program in Weyburn in Candice Porter's classroom.
“It's been a very beneficial program for the kids, I think, and it's kind of interesting for everybody,” he shared.
“The eggs come near the end of January,” he explained. “They raise the fish until early June, and then they bring them up to Mainprize [Lake] when they're about two inches long, maybe, and they put them in the trout pond near the golf course.”
Olfert said the WWF then treats the kids and their parents to a hot dog lunch barbecue.
Interestingly, the larger trout do not eat the smaller trout in the pond, which means these hatchlings will grow to the proper size within a couple of years.
“The trout pond on Mainprize is really quite big, so they'll live a number of years on there.”
He said it is always so exciting for the students to be part of such an experience at school.
“They've been hearing about these eggs coming, the fish coming, and it's really exciting for the kids,” he shared. “The funniest thing was when Judy and I were there two years ago, there was a little Ukrainian boy there. He couldn't speak English, and he saw these eggs and he said, 'looks like caviar'. His eyes were big and bright, and he was just grinning and thinking about these fish hatching. That was really awesome.”
Olfert said it takes a lot of dedication on the teacher's behalf to take part in this program. It was a good thing Mrs. Porter was raised as part of the WWF, as her parents have also been long-time members.
“They don't take up a lot of attention, but they do take a little attention every day, and as the fish get bigger, she has to clean the water, change the water and all that kind of stuff. It's a bit of work, but she thrives on it. She loves it. She's a fisherwoman, a hunter, and likes everything about the program.”
He said the eggs come from the fish hatchery at Fort Qu'Apelle as part of the Provincial Fisheries program. He added the entire thing would not be possible without the help of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
“Throughout the year, they coordinate getting the supplies, the filtration systems and whatever, and hey've got it kind of worked out so it's really helpful by everybody,” he noted.
He said there are about 35 classrooms in the province participating in the program.
“They're just a little medium-sized peanut butter jar, with 100 eggs in it, and then they bring him down and they put them into the aquarium and from there it's all watching, taking care.”
The cost for the WWF is around $2,000 per year.
“We have a member that helps us out with that, Joe Stefaniuk is one of our stronger members, and he helps us out with the funding of this program.”
Olfert added the program had also run at Weyburn Comprehensive School, but that tank will be moving to another school in Weyburn for next year, which will likely be Assiniboia Park Elementary School.
He said they have a lot of great programs, including one from which anyone can come and get grain for pheasants and other birds.