California Educator

August 2016

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D A L L A S T O G N O T T I ' S science class is offishally awe- some. When school starts, the first thing his students do is tour the Chester High School fish hatchery on campus in the former auto shop building. en, they map out both equipment and plumbing (distinguish- ing between outgoing water and returning water) to garner a basic understanding of how the closed recirculating system works. From there, students determine the hatchery 's tank capacity and water flow rate in an open-ended, student-led investigation. And that's just for starters. Tognotti manages the hatchery, technically named the Almanor Research Institute (ARI), which breeds and raises local native trout species for transplanting into the Lake Almanor Basin, as guided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Chester is one of the few Cali- fornia high schools that offer a limnology (freshwater study) program with a fully functional, industrial-level trout hatchery. e goal for the Plumas County Teachers Associa- tion member and his colleagues is to educate students on environmental stewardship while utilizing local resources from the upper Feather River watershed. Typically, students take trips to the local streams that feed into Lake Almanor. Fish spawn there, but the streams are seasonal and not generally viable for sur- vival, says Tognotti. "e collected fertilized eggs are transported back to our hatchery, incubated, hatched, and raised by our students." "It provides a unique experience for students to develop scientific prac- tices, observational and critical thinking skills, job skills, and an interest in the sciences in general," he says. "We lose some fish every year ; [even that] provides unique learning opportunities for students to investigate, test and solve problems." All science classes offered at CHS benefit from the fish hatchery pro- gram, particularly AP Environmental Science, natural resources, biology and life sciences. Each year, students in the program learn about freshwater ecosystems, water analysis, fisheries biology, aquaculture systems and man- agement, nutrition and reproduction, and laws and regulations. "Our students have gone on to pursue careers in fisheries, wildlife biology, environmental engineering, game warden, hydrology, forestry, botany and biology," says Tognotti. "is wouldn't have been possible without retired Chester High School science teacher Dave Bradley. ARI is a result of Dave's passion and dedication. He was awarded a Secondary Specialty Programs (SSP) grant in 1999, and since 2002 the hatchery has expanded in size and moved to a larger facility on campus." Managing a hatchery and being a full-time science teacher is tough, admits Tognotti. Teaching in a small school means he has five class preps, plus he manages the hatchery, handles the maintenance, and raises funds. Meanwhile, the program continues to grow. A CDFW district fisheries biologist recently donated 30,000 Eagle Lake trout eggs from the Mount Shasta state hatchery. Tognotti will have students fertilize the eggs, incubate and hatch them, and then return the fish to Lake Almanor. "We're excited to raise this subspecies of rainbow trout that are endemic to another local lake, Eagle Lake," he says. So there are plenty of fish in the sea. Well, actually in the Lake Almanor Basin. And you can thank Tognotti and his Chester High School students and colleagues for that. 43 August 2016 Something fishy going on Learning spawned by trout and teachers By CYNTHIA MENZEL Students of Dallas Tognotti, above, learn science and environmental stewardship through Chester High School's on-campus trout hatchery.

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