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Algonquin students raise, release walleye fry into Ramsey Lake

Thousands of walleye fry that were spawned in the school’s hatchery and taught students about cell biology and the natural development of fish, and now they’re hoping the community will support their next endeavour

Students and staff from Algonquin Road Public School helped to strengthen the ecosystem of Ramsey Lake on June 28 when they released thousands of walleye fry (babies) into Ramsey Lake. 

The fish were spawned in the school's hatchery from approximately 72,000 walleye eggs.

The first of its kind in Rainbow District School Board, the Algonquin fish hatchery was initially established by teacher Darren Foy as a prototype to stock local lakes with native brook trout and walleye. 

After a two-year hiatus, teacher Ryan Crouch and Grade 7 and 8 students stepped in. With community support, they’re hoping to bring the hatchery to current standards.

A release from the Rainbow District School Board states that Crouch is a strong advocate for sustainability and believes this is an important learning opportunity for students – with ties to the curriculum from Grades 4 to 8.

“The hatchery connects theory with hands-on experience,” he said in the release. “It teaches students about cell biology and the natural development of fish from egg to fry.”

“We invite students from various classes as often as possible to witness the incubation and development process under a microscope,” says Ryan Crouch. “This provides a visual representation of egg maturity. This practical approach gets students excited about coming to school.”

Each year, Micro-Hatcheries Inc. owner Rolly Frappier works in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources to extract fish eggs, and fertilize, monitor and distribute them to school hatcheries for education and conservation.

Modern hatcheries are considered a version seven, states the release, while the hatchery at Algonquin is a version two. 

“There is work to be done to revamp the hatchery,” says Ryan Crouch. “This, of course, is contingent on securing funds to update the equipment. We would certainly welcome support.”

Principal Trevor Dewit is thrilled that the hatchery is back in action. 

“Students welcome the opportunity to learn about science in a fun and exciting way,” he says. “Hatcheries encourage ecological literacy, environmental stewardship, and teamwork and leadership – three of the six pillars for EcoSchools certification.”

He adds: “We are extremely grateful to Ryan Crouch for his work in reviving the hatchery. I also extend a special thanks to Rolly Frappier for his ongoing expertise and guidance.”