School project featured in national fishing mag

Wildwood teacher is researching putting brook trout back into Flowing Spring

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – The effort by an area teacher to reintroduce native brook trout into Flowing Spring has garnered her a national spotlight in a prominent national fly fishing magazine.

A two-page story about Wildwood Middle School teacher Carolyn Thomas’ class project appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Trout magazine, the quarterly magazine of the fly-fishing and trout stream preservation group Trout Unlimited.

Wildwood teacher Carolyn Thomas has done research to see if brook trout can be reintroducedto Flowing Spring.

Wildwood teacher Carolyn Thomas has done research to see if brook trout can be reintroduced to Flowing Spring.

“We were just thrilled to be featured,” Thomas said in an interview.

Thomas says her classes’ projects owe much of their success to the volunteer participation and aid provided by groups like the Winchester chapter of Trout Unlimited. “We’ve shared ideas, and they’ve been so supportive,” she said.

The class has also gained some hands-on fly fishing experience to complement the scientific studies it has undertaken throughout the school year. “They’ve learned how to tie some flies, and have practiced fly casting,” Thomas said, adding the students have also benefited from the help of the area’s rich scientific community, much of which is devoted to studying issues related to aquatic biology.

“There are a lot of partners who have been incredibly supportive,” Thomas said. “All the administration at my school, and all of these community scientists – none of this would happen without their support.”

Both Thomas’ seventh-grade classes and eighth- graders have participated in the project. The seventh-graders took a trip to the Freshwater Institute near Shepherdstown, an experimental salmon farm that is trying to develop commercial fish farming methods with minimal water usage and pollution discharge. Meanwhile, her eighth-grade class has been working with USDA scientists at the Leetown fish hatchery, where they got to see the work of local fish health scientists.

“That’s been a big thing that I’ve wanted my students to do — to see and meet community scientists,” Thomas said. “They’re people who live here, people who work here. What do they do?”

Both of Thomas’ classes will soon visit Beaver Creek in Washington County, Md., which supports breeding populations of brown and rainbow trout. They will study the features of Beaver Creek and compare their analysis to earlier measurements they took of Flowing Spring in an effort to determine whether reintroduced brook trout will be able to survive and reproduce.

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