This year, the Trout Club brought in about 200 trout eggs. By Spring, they were releasing more than 150 trout into the Caney Fork River. A club in its fourth year, Trout Club consists of those nature-enthusiasts who want to be outside and with their friends. Through a partnership with the conservation group Trout Unlimited
, students receive trout eggs and gain permission from the State to transfer them to the Caney Fork River.
Ensworth is one of two schools in Tennessee participating in this program. Trout Unlimited partners with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to equip schools with all the supplies, equipment, and licensing needed to raise and release trout. The goal of this program is to educate students and restock our rivers. “This is an opportunity, first hand, for students to demonstrate good stewardship,” says Mike Ireland, co-faculty-sponsor of the Trout Club.
These students have an obvious love for nature and also a passion for Tennessee. “Seniors found great joy in spending time together and the release,” recalls Jeff Scott, co-faculty-sponsor of the Trout Club.
This program is very satisfying, allowing students to rear, nurture, and care for trout from egg to alevins to full-grown fish. It is a lot of work. Keeping the tanks clean contributes to the overall success of the fish, and students found a good rhythm throughout the school year.
Most of the students who joined Trout Club came by way of their passionate and engaging science teachers. “I really love the science department,” Kate Rosen ’23 expressed. “I stayed [in Trout Club] mainly because of my parents’ reactions to me joining.” Trout Club is not necessarily the first thing one may think of when it comes to extracurriculars, but it has enhanced the lives of those who participate.
Trout Club is more than just rearing and releasing trout, however. Having been a part of Trout Club since freshman year, Chloe Ward ’23 emphasizes another key element of this endeavor: community. “It’s mostly the people that made it really fun this year,” she shares.
Students work together in tandem with their teachers to create the best environment for these growing fish. Twice a week, they would come together to maintain the trouts’ environment and ensure all was going well. They changed about fifteen gallons of water per week, added primer, and checked nutrients. Without a whole lot of guidance on how to maintain the trout's environment, students did research and got help from their teachers. “We were told around 59 degrees. We looked up the ideal pH for trout. We knew we needed to keep nitrogen low. Our teachers knew what they were doing and were a great support,” Chloe details.
On April 21, 2023, as a part of Service Day, ten students traveled to the Caney Fork River to release their trout. One student remarked after speaking to some fishermen, “We grew fish they're going to catch.” This is truly a cultural-ecosystem service. Not only are students contributing to the ecosystem within the river, but they are also supporting local fishermen. “I never knew the extent of this ecosystem,” Kate expresses. These students have learned so much and want to be good stewards. Chloe shares, “We, as humans, are trying to do better.”
“Words just don’t give the Trout Club justice,” Ryleigh Wescott ’26 declares. As the next generation of students come together for Trout Club, the learning and community will swim on.
Katherine Groomes ’23
Kate Rosen ’23
Hannah Smokler ’23
Chloe Ward ’23
Julia Mason ’24
Gennie Philpott ’24
Alexa Williams ’24
Ilyana Bachmann ’26
Julia Grace Linn ’26
Mia McDermott ’26
Ryleigh Wescott ’26