Shad in the Classroom: American Shad’s Journey From the Classroom to the River

May 1, 2014

This spring, Tiller School’s students are raising American shad in their classroom as part of  Shad in the Classroom, a unique program designed to help them learn about their river basin and this remarkable fish. Led by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the Shad in the Classroom program receives significant logistical and financial support from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The program provides training, tanks, and eggs to 23 schools along the Neuse and Roanoke River Basins.  Through their observations and experiences, students learn concepts related to the shad’s survival, the species cultural and biological importance, its ecological connections to other species, and the significance of genetic integrity to population studies.  The program heightens knowledge and awareness in future generations of an important migratory fish, the American shad.

Shad in the Classroom is about more than just raising the fish. It provides instruction for the teachers and links to several parts in the curriculum. Teachers from participating schools attended an all day workshop held in February at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences where they learned how to construct the fish hatcheries, received presentations from Dr. Joe Hightower and Dr. Jesse Fischer from N.C. State University and Ben Ricks form the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, participated in hands on activities, and received curriculum materials to use in their classrooms. In addition, nine teachers in the program will be participating in an overnight canoe trip along the Roanoke River in May in order to explore this swamp ecosystem and its resources, and to gain valuable insights to take back to their classrooms.

 Tiller School’s students received American shad eggs on Monday, April 28, 2014 from the Edenton National Fish Hatchery.  The eggs are kept in a “fish hatchery” that is maintained by the students. The students are responsible for testing and maintaining the correct water quality and temperature.   On Friday, May 2, 2014 Tiller School’s fourth graders will release their fish into the Neuse River at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.