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Students release rainbow trout in effort to bring them back

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M.G. Perez
Leonardo DeGrand, 7, releases his young rainbow trout into Lake Miramar as his science partner, Liam Paruginog, 7, looks on. They joined their classmates in the project organized by the Escondido Creek Conservancy.

The Lake Miramar Reservoir has dozens of new fish that have been added to its waters.

They are rainbow trout released by some elementary school students with an assignment to help the environment.

Thursday morning, second-grade students from High Tech Elementary Mesa in Clairemont spent some final moments with the young rainbow trout they had studied and helped raise, before releasing them.

Students release rainbow trout in effort to bring them back

Stephanie Lance is the STEM teacher who led the learning about a trout’s life cycle and the lesson in conservation. “It’s tangible. It’s right in front of them. They get to watch them hatch from eggs into alevin and then into fry. So, they get to watch the whole process,” she said.

Alevin and fry are names given to the young trout at different stages of their first few weeks after hatching.

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M.G. Perez
Dozens of young rainbow trout swim in a bucket as students prepare to release them into Lake Miramar.

Rainbow trout were once abundant in southern California, but their populations have plummeted because of urban development and water pollution. The “trout in the classroom” project allows students to be part of the effort to repopulate the fish through the Escondido Creek Conservancy.

The organization is charged with conserving wildlife and habitats along the 26-mile Escondido Creek watershed. It starts at Lake Wohlford and continues through the City of Escondido and on toward the ocean, spilling out into the San Elijo Lagoon.

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M.G. Perez
Urban development and water pollution have killed off the rainbow trout that used to swim along the Escondido Creek watershed. Students now raise and release them in a conservation project at Lake Miramar.

The Conservancy’s Education Director Simon Breen instructs students before they walk to the lake to release their trout. He said, “As they get older and they become more responsible for the world that is around them, they are aware enough to take action to see trout make a return.”

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M.G. Perez
Simon Breen is the Education Director for the Escondido Creek Conservancy. He leads students in an education program that teaches them how to raise rainbow trout and then release them into the Lake Miramar Reservoir.

James McComish, 8, is hopeful that his fish will flourish in the lake. “Bad humans in the world may try and destroy this habitat. But I’m also very confident the trout will keep trying to survive in the wild,” he said.

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High Tech Elementary Mesa students have had custody of their young rainbow trout since January. Like in real life, being a parent isn’t always easy. Students like Kruz Martin, 8, grew very fond of their baby fish.

“I’m happy because he’s out there, and at the same time I’m sad because I liked raising him,” he said.