In June during National Get Outdoors Month, Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex in Gardnerville, Nevada provided a Lahontan cutthroat trout or LCT outdoor learning experience for Douglas County Recreation Adventure Camp. The Adventure Camp students ranged from kindergarten to fifth grade and were from the local community where the hatchery resides.
Lahontan National Fish Hatchery is one of three facilities within the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex. The hatchery maintains aof a unique strain of Lahontan cutthroat trout, the Pilot Peak strain that represents the original lake form that evolved in ancient Lake Lahontan and is the largest inland cutthroat trout in the world. Since 2006, Lahontan National Fish Hatchery has produced and stocked Pilot Peak strain Lahontan cutthroat trout in support of conservation and recovery in their native waters of Nevada and the Eastern Sierra's.
As the students descended from the bus their enthusiasm began to wiggle out like a wild LCT for the opportunity to get outdoors and see the monster fish! We started the day with a brief introduction about the hatchery and then had the students break out into groups to begin the rotation through six stations. Each station was intended to provide a fun, active learning opportunity for the students to gain knowledge on the history, habitat and lifecycle of the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout. Stations included:
1. A tour of the hatchery providing an up-close experience with the monster LCT broodstock and 2023 spawning season fingerlings.
2. Time to get some wiggles out and learn about fish habitat with a stream game, egg toss into a redd, and a pass through the giant blow-up trout.
3. A colorful creative activity with painting and printing of LCT with volunteer retired teachers from Douglas County.
4. Bracelet making learning activity where each bead color represents the lifecycle of the LCT.
5. Coloring the monster LCT and learning activity with a Junior Ranger Let’s Go Fishing Activity Guide.
6. A pollinator exploration for Pollinator Week in the Monarch Waystation. Students used magnifying glasses to look for pollinators on the Showy Milkweed and Penstemon that was led by the volunteers from the Nevada 4-H Pollinator Ambassador Program.
For those looking for a little extra challenge, we asked for a word wizard from each group to encourage the group to solve the mystery word in the information staff and volunteers shared throughout the day. We wanted them to learn that the Pilot Peak strain LCT have begun to naturally spawn in the lower T R U C K E E River since 2014.
Through the staff and volunteers, the educational materials, interactive games, crafts, and experiences geared towards Lahontan cutthroat trout, the state fish of Nevada, we hope that we started to foster the importance of conservation, importance to their community, and the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service to the next generation.
This work was supported by a grant from the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Fish Funds program. Participation in outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, hiking, and birding connect people with nature and empower the next generation of conservationists.