Shad in the Classroom is a hands-on, science learning opportunity for grade school 5-12 run by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in collaboration with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program is a minimum of two weeks in the classroom spanning topics from fish biology, food web ecology, and stream ecology. The biggest part of the program is each classroom will raise and release their own shad fry (juvenile fish) as part of a NC fisheries conservation and management program. The American Shad are an important local fisheries that is deeply rooted in North Carolina culture. They are a migratory fish that spawn in freshwater but live most of its life in the ocean. Due to human development and water flow alterations, e.g., dams, we have greatly impacted their spawning aggregations and programs like ‘Shad in the Classroom’ help supply our river systems with shad fry.
As a member of NC State’s Student Fisheries Society, last Friday I had the opportunity to present at Wake Forest Middle, reviewing fish biology and anatomy for the 8th grade science classes. Walking in the classroom with 30, freshly thawed fish for dissections, I was certain I was going to make some sort of an impression. Once the initial smell of fish passed – with faces and covered noses – students dove right in, impatiently try to see the innards of the fish in front of them. The teacher mentioned this was the first hands-on experience for most of these students and I am very grateful I was able to be a part of their first. Come be a part of the experience next year with NC State’s Student Fisheries Society.