Fishing for knowledge in Bernalillo – Albuquerque Journal

………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ……….

Ten-year-old Rhiannon Montoya carefully sprinkled a bowl of fish food into a 50-gallon tank in the Bernalillo Elementary School library, then watched intently as red shiner, Western Mosquito fish, flathead trout and other species swam up to the surface.

The fourth-grader has a couple of betas at home, so she was particularly excited to see the new addition in the reading area, courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Native Fish in the Classroom project.

“My family goes fishing, but we let the fish go,” Montoya said. “We got a crawdad once. It’ll be fun to take care of the fish.”

This kind of engagement is the goal of the USFWS program, which launched in 2011 and currently operates in nine schools around New Mexico.

Advertisement

Continue reading

Bernalillo Elementary fourth-grade teachers Amber Braden and Patricia Santscoy recently signed up to participate, receiving a few dozen small fish at the end of January.

Destiny Vigil, 9, looks at special food she and other fourth graders will feed to wild fish into an aquarium in the library of the Bernalillo Elementary School.

Destiny Vigil, 9, looks at special food she and other fourth graders will feed to wild fish into an aquarium in the library of the Bernalillo Elementary School.

The delivery was an intensive process – fish biologist Angela James arrived at the school with a container full of native fish culled from various tanks at the USFWS Albuquerque office.

Students from the two classes gathered in the library to watch James transfer the critters to their new home, which is on loan from USFWS.

“Your job is to be good stewards of the fish,” James told the children. “You are their caretakers.”

Over the coming months, the kids will take turns cleaning the tank, feeding the fish and testing the water for chemicals like nitrates. Then, in May, the fish will go home to the Rio Grande – James will take the students to a nearby spot on the river to release them back into the wild.

Santscoy said the program offers a wonderful hands-on science lesson that teaches skills like measurement, observation and responsibility.

“I want them to learn about our native fish in the Rio Grande and learn how to be scientists,” she added. “And they’ll be taking on a project they have ownership in.”

To James, the fish also teach greater awareness of New Mexico’s rich ecology.

Advertisement

Continue reading

After they are back in nature, the small species in the Bernalillo Elementary tank will become prey for larger fish and birds, a critical link for the Rio Grande ecosystem.

Each fourth grade student has a notebook in a program called Native Fish in the Classroom at Bernalillo Elementary School.

Each fourth grade student has a notebook in a program called Native Fish in the Classroom at Bernalillo Elementary School.

“It’s great the kids will know these fish exist,” James said. “It will make them more conscientious.”

Plus, having fish is just fun.

Students quickly picked out their favorites and gave them creative names: Stewie, Fathead, Shimmer, Nemo, Fred, Bob.

Nathan Encinias, 9, a student in Braden’s class, said he is looking forward to watching the fish grow and tracking the conditions in their tank.

“We’ll have to be exact in what we do,” Encinias said. “You have to be really precise and accurate.”

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*