Sturgeon in the Classroom (SITC)
The goal of the Sturgeon in the Classroom program is to instill conservation stewardship.
Schools are selected to raise a juvenile sturgeon during the school year, while incorporating hands-on, place-based education to enlighten youth on the importance of conservation and stewardship for the environment.
At the beginning of the school year, students receive a fingerling Lake Sturgeon from Sturgeon for Tomorrow and MI Department of Natural Resources to care for throughout the year. Students are responsible for maintaining the tank, testing the water quality, and feeding the Lake Sturgeon. Near the end of the school year, the fish is released. Prior to its release, the sturgeon is chipped with a PIT tag. This tagging allows future students to stay connected to the fish since with each recapture they will be notified with the location and an update of its growth and health. This project is a perfect example of place-based stewardship education since students are learning about their local watershed a threatened fish species while improving local fisheries with the fish’s release.
- Resources for Educators
- SCUTES Lesson Plans
- MSU Great Lakes Sturgeon Lesson Plans
- Sturgeon in the Classroom best practices webinar
- Alcona Elementary School
- Cheboygan Middle School
- Holt High School
- Inland Lakes Schools
- Onaway High School
- Quincy Elementary
- St. Lorenz Lutheran School
- Thunder Bay Jr High
- White Pine Middle School
Sturgeon in the classroom 2015
In the fall of 2015 SFT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Michigan DNR Fisheries Division to facilitate SITC. SFT has been coordinating this program since 2013 and by signing the MOU have officially accepted responsibility as a “cooperator” and for coordinating this statewide K-12 classroom program including individual classroom education plans.
This project aims to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation for Michigan’s state threatened lake sturgeon, and the ecology of the Great Lakes eco-region through hands on, place-based education, engagement, mobilization, stewardship and advocacy, to develop long term sustainability of the Great Lakes Fisheries.
Eight classrooms selected to participate in SITC for 2015-2016 school year:
- Cheboygan Middle School, Cheboygan
- Ella White Elementary, Alpena
- Holt High School, Holt
- Inland Lakes Schools, Indian River
- Olivet Middle School, Olivet
- Shumate Middle School, Gibraltar
- Quincy Elementary, Zeeland
- Waldon Middle School, Lake Orion
We are in the process of developing a standardized application and selection process for future year’s participants.
Sturgeon in the classroom 2014
In partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division, Sturgeon For Tomorrow have been having an absolute blast facilitating Sturgeon in the Classroom (SITC). Students from Cheboygan, Onaway, Alpena, Lapeer, Lake Orion and Holt welcomed their very own sturgeon in October 2014 when the fish was only about five inches long.
Classrooms adopt a fall fingerling lake sturgeon that have been raised at the streamside hatchery on the Black River. Students nurture their sturgeon by set up feeding regimes, water temperature and water chemistry monitoring, maintenance of the tank and filters, while they are also learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. Frozen bloodworms are the menu for the young lake sturgeon that grew from 5 inches up to 18 inches over a period of seven months. That’s pretty impressive for a relic that can grow to be 8 feet in length and weigh over 200 pounds.
Just as the students were ready to be released from school, so too was the sturgeon. “Releasing the fish was by far the best part of the program,” said Ann Douglas, 5th grade teacher at Cheboygan Middle School. “The students were amazed while visiting the hatchery seeing the different sizes and life stages of the sturgeon, and when we went to the spawning site on the river, researchers were tagging them and pulling out four-footers!”
By raising this native fish, students are learning about threatened and endangered species, clean air, clean water and the importance of stewardship.
Students from each school released their sturgeon wondering if they will ever see their little buddies again. Each fish was implanted with a PIT tag, so when captured in the future the classes will be notified of date, location, length, weight, etc. of their classmate. The students hope for a better future for the iconic lake sturgeon and feel honored to have had the opportunity to learn about such a charismatic fish.
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