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Students at Ecole Ducharme learn about Rainbow Trout, ecology in FinS program

Originally developed in Alberta, the Fish in Schools (FinS) program allows elementary school students to learn about the life cycle of Rainbow Trout as well as other ecological insights and the value of conservation efforts

The FinS (Fish in Schools) program run by the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation is moving along nicely, the federation reported, with the eyed eggs supplied to Ecole Ducharme now hatched as of around Feb. 13.

Ecole Ducharme is the only school in Moose Jaw that has enrolled in the program this year, and students at the school now have an opportunity to learn about the life cycle of Rainbow Trout first-hand. This learning opportunity can be attributed to the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation, who provided all the necessary supplies to make the experience possible.

The wildlife federation’s president, Todd Smith, has reported that the newly hatched fish eggs are now starting to hide in the gravel while absorbing their yolk sacks during this early stage in their development.

To the eagerly watching young students, this appears to them as a number of curious tails poking up through the tank’s rocky bottom.

The FinS program was originally designed in Alberta but was later adopted by the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation as a way to get students involved in learning about the conservation and replenishment of fish stocks in the province, Smith said.

To run the province-wide program, students selected to host the fish are given the needed equipment from their local wildlife branch, which in Moose Jaw is the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation. This includes an aquarium, water filter, the chillers, and eyed eggs sourced from the Fort Qu’Appelle-based Saskatchewan Fish Hatchery.

“The students are tasked with taking care of the eggs until they hatch…,” Smith said, noting that the eggs at Ecole Ducharme are now in the alevin stage. This stage occurs when the eggs are about two to six months old.

Students enrolled in the program are currently learning about Rainbow Trout, which is the species of fish being used in the program this year.

“(Students) learn about the life cycles of the trout, and their development… (and) why it’s important to manage pollution and to also manage our use of the fish resources…,” Smith explained.

This educational lesson involves an exploration of food webs, discussions about water quality concerns, and students explore the ways fish interact with macro invertebrates within their ecosystem.

Once the Rainbow Trout are old enough to be released into the wild, these fish now residing at Ecole Ducharme will be released into the Buffalo Pound Trout Pond located near the park’s entrance.

“Eventually they go in as about two-to-three-inch fingerlings, and eventually they could grow up and an angler could potentially go down, catch one, and take it home for supper.”

Ecole Ducharme is currently the only school in Moose Jaw enrolled in the FinS program, but Smith noted that up to three local schools can be supported by the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation.

The deadline to apply for this year’s FinS program has passed, but any educators interested in involving their classroom in the program can apply for next year’s intake well in advance. To enlist, all you have to do is contact the Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation at

Once a classroom has been accepted into the program, the wildlife federation will supply all kit items needed to house the fish eggs in their classroom. Smith said planning begins around the end of October each year, and the program is set up shortly before the onset of the Christmas break.

The Moose Jaw Wildlife Federation operates out of the Wildlife Centre, located at 1396 Third Avenue Northeast behind the Town ‘N’ Country Mall, and can be reached by phone at 306-693-4047.

For more information about the FinS program, visit the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s website at

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