Trout in the Classroom

TIC program helps educate about local watersheds

By Krista White

Do you dream of offering your students a hands-on learning experience to teach about the local watershed? The Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offer grants to help educators make that dream a reality through the Trout in the Classroom initiative. The initiative is an interdisciplinary environmental education program in which students (grades 3-12) learn about current and past impacts, management, and protection and enhancement opportunities of Pennsylvania’s watersheds and coldwater resources while raising trout in the classroom.

“Trout in the Classroom is a fun and rewarding way to engage your students in hands-on learning in the classroom,” said Rachel Kester, program coordinator for Pennsylvania Trout in the Classroom. “It gets them interested in the natural world and provides a wealth of opportunity to support your curriculum whether it be science, math, art, or physical education. It really can be adapted to enhance any subject and the kids love it!”

In 2016, Trout in the Classroom in Pennsylvania began as a non-formal education program, with programs varying among individual teachers and program partners (e.g., local Trout Unlimited chapters, watershed associations, and conservation organizations). In 2018, the partnership between the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission was formed, and the program evolved into a coordinated statewide initiative. 

Schools and partner organizations that work with active TIC programs or would like to start a new TIC program are eligible to apply. Program eligibility is open to any interested educator, said Kester.

Before applying, teachers and/or partners must have completed a TIC Teacher Workshop in the past or agree to attend one of the workshops held in June/July each year. Applicants need to attend only ONE workshop (e.g., if two dates are available in one calendar year, a new teacher needs only attend ONE date). Workshops are offered free of charge and are currently offered online.

The organization provides up to $10,000 in grants per year. The organization provides aquarium/tank chiller equipment grants to start-up applicants, and cash grants up to $500 to help keep existing and already-established TIC programs running.

Program costs to the individual applicant vary, but Kester said that grantees are required to come up with a $1,200 match. The match may be a combination of cash and in-kind donations.

“The startup cost is really going to depend on if the teacher can get some or all of the equipment donated by their program partner(s) or community members,” she said. “Oftentimes they can find a used aquarium for free or cheap and round up some of the other supplies through donations from hardware stores or other local businesses or their program partner (usually a Trout Unlimited chapter).”

They would also need to order a TIC startup kit from That Fish Place, said Kester. The kit this year was about $560 and includes many of the items that are listed on the required equipment list.

The deadline for the 2022 grant program is to be determined, but Kester said it would most likely follow the same timeline as the 2021 program with applications accepted until mid-April.

For more information, visit

*Pictures below sourced from Trout Unlimited Pennsylvania Council

A group of fish swimming

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Juvenile Trout

A picture containing pile, displayed, several, arranged

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Trout eggs

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Educators – looking for a hands-on classroom experience to enhance your lessons on local watersheds? Consider applying for a Pennsylvania Trout in the Classroom grant to bring a bit of outside into your classroom.