MISSOULA - Hellgate High School students released more than 100 rainbow trout into Silvers Lagoon at McCormack Park earlier this week.
The fish were biology class pets, being raised from eggs as a part of Trout in the Classroom.
The nonprofit Trout Unlimited runs the program, and the local chapter provided the equipment for the students to learn.
Back in December, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) provided the fish eggs.
Hellgate High School biology teacher Patrick Murphy said the fish had students hooked on science.
“That is immediately what the kids always come in and check on first is the development of the fish,” Murphy said. “It’s been fun to see the questions that come out of them just interacting with the fish.”
During Wednesday's release event, members of the conservation community spoke with students, teaching them about fish cultivation and fly fishing.
Hellgate High School junior Ryley Wickens — who named her trout fry ‘Anchor’, a shark in the movie "Finding Nemo" — said keeping the fish healthy was full of lessons.
“I kinda just learned a lot in general,” Wickens said. “It was all kinds of surprising, as far as their stages and everything. It was all just super exciting.”
That excitement is exactly what Murphy is trying to create.
“I think it’s absolutely essential for us to equip our students with the knowledge and passion for what we have here in Montana,” Murphy said. “I think it is a lifetime gift we are giving the next generation.”
Murphy added that he hopes next year the class can try to raise Westslope Cutthroat Trout, a native Montana species.