Thirty GEAR UP students from Harmony Public Schools recently toured the Durant State Fish Hatchery located on the Blue River in Durant. The 6th and 7th graders spent the day exploring the hatchery and learning about its role in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.
Students enjoyed a tour led by Rebecca Fillmore, a technician for the fish hatchery where they observed feeding of the fish in one of the many reservoirs and learned about the process of producing millions of fish each year for stocking Oklahoma waters to enhance angling and sport fishing. They also heard from wildlife interns who shared with them the collegiate requirements for pursuing a degree in Wildlife Management.
Then students explored some of the special catches of the day with hands–on experiences with turtles, frogs, and even a small snake. After learning about the animals, their distinctive markings, and their habits, the students were allowed to release frogs back into one of the reservoirs and see them in their natural habitat.
“What an exciting day!” observed GEAR UP Education Coordinator Denise Lovell. “Watching and listening to the students learn in an outdoor classroom was priceless. Curiosity and discovery are essential to success and are an important part of the GEAR UP program which encourages students to explore life beyond the classroom.”
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.