Friday, May 20, 2022

Forbes Trail Chapter Trout Unlimited: Ligonier Valley Middle School Students Wrap Up Outdoor Club Activities In Westmoreland

Twenty-three students from
Ligonier Valley Middle School’s Outdoor Club in Westmoreland County, plus a few fellow students, completed the final activities for their 2021/2022 Club program.  

The students were bused to Linn Run State Park on May 19, for a school sanctioned field-day and service project.  

About a dozen mentors from Trout Unlimited’s local Forbes Trail Chapter coached the students on how to catch and identify “trout bugs” and conduct water quality tests on Linn Run.

Using dip nets, the students took turns scooping leaves and other organic material from the bed of the stream while others transferred it all to buckets.  

Back at the picnic tables, the learners sorted through the debris to capture wiggly macroinvertebrates (trout bugs).  Then using a chart, they identified them as may flies, caddis flies or stone flies.  

The presence and quantity of each help assess the overall health of the stream.  All bugs were safely returned to the stream to continue their life cycle; some of course to become trout food.

Next, using sterile bottles, learners collected water samples from Linn Run and using meters and wet chemistry methods, tested for temperature, pH and alkalinity.  

These stream-side ecology activities supplement the classroom studies.

“The Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited Chapter mentors did an amazing job teaching our learners about the importance of coldwater fisheries today,” noted Ryan Podlucky, Health and Physical Education Teacher and Outdoors Club Advisor.  “They provided a great hands-on learning experience for our kids.  Their favorite part of the day was using the nets to gather macroinvertebrates and then count them from the different collection sites.  The lessons learned and activities are unique to the school’s Outdoor Club.  The Club is an important learning tool for many students, and may help direct some careers.”    

After a lunch grilled by TU volunteers, learners were bused to the Adams Falls Picnic area of the Park to place mulch on hiking trails.  The Park is heavily used from early spring to late fall and the trails are in constant need of repairs.  

The work will qualify as “service hours” for the students, in addition to assisting Park staff with needed maintenance.  

It’s a win-win-win for the park, students and public!  

This was the final school program for the TU mentors for the spring.  TU mentors enjoy working with our local schools and youth groups to teach coldwater conservation and fly fishing.  

For more information about Trout Unlimited and how you can get involved, visit the Forbes Trail Chapter and the PA Council of Trout Unlimited websites.

[Posted: May 20, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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