Trout In The Classroom

Trout n About

Trout in the Classroom is a leading environmental education program that teaches students from elementary to college how to raise trout from eggs to fingerlings, monitor water quality, engage in stream habitat study, appreciate water resources, and foster a conservation ethic. 

LIVE! Brook trout tank streaming at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, Virginia

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The History of Trout in the Classroom

Trout in the Classroom

(TIC) was established in Virginia in 2005 through the efforts of Dr. David Jones, Martinsville Orthodontist. Dr. Jones, an avid fly fisherman and conservationist, was looking for a way to engage the community in protecting the Smith River by connecting children to the outdoors and the preservation of trout through environmental education. He was introduced to Trout Unlimited’s TIC program and his dedication to this purpose led him to personally sponsor and maintain 15 tanks the first year of the program. The TIC set-ups were placed in the Virginia Museum of Natural History and several local schools in Henry and Patrick counties.


The first year TIC was introduced to the schools, brown trout fry were obtained from the state hatchery and raised to fingerlings that were released into the Smith River by the students. The success of the pilot program was overwhelming and by the second season, Brian Williams had begun volunteering for the program and TIC obtained permission to secure brown trout eggs from the State Fish Hatchery in Wytheville. By starting with eggs, the students would be able to experience the life cycle from eggs to fingerlings. This also meant the program would span 6 months which helps create a lasting experience, culminating with the release of the trout into a local stream. In 2006, Dr. Jones partnered with Wayne Kirkpatrick of the Dan River Basin Association and the streamside “Tub -O-Bugs program was incorporated into TIC. A grant from the Harvest Foundation allowed the program to continue with funding for a full time staff person from the Dan River Basin Association with responsibilities to include support of Trout in the Classroom. In 2008, Brian Williams was hired as DRBA’s full time Education Outreach and Conservation Coordinator, supporting TIC. The program continued to grow throughout Virginia and DRBA staff and volunteers assisted other Trout Unlimited Chapters in building the program across Virginia.  

In 2011, Krista Hodges was hired as DRBA's new Education Outreach Coordinator.  Her primary responsibility was enhancing the Trout in the Classroom program while building other environmental education programs to be used basin wide. The Southern Virginia TIC under DRBA became the largest single TIC program in the country with over 40 tanks in 2014-15 season.


In 2011, Krista requested and was granted permission from Virginia Department of Fish and Game Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to add Rainbow trout eggs to the program. In 2013, Krista again made a request to VDGIF to obtain Brook trout to be raised in the program.  The VDGIF again granted permission and to date the program raises and releases Browns, Rainbows and Virginia's only native species, the Brook Trout, into area rivers through the program.

Now, a decade into the Trout in the Classroom program, although the number of tanks have been reduced due to funding, the Dan River Basin Association’s Education Outreach Manager, Krista Hodges, continues to grow and enhance the program. The students are exposed to conservation ethics, watersheds, pollution, ecosystem connectivity and personal responsibility through DRBA’s programs, and SOL’s are connected to increase the learning opportunities. Dr. David Jones said, “There is no subject that can’t be related to Trout in the Classroom, from science, math and chemistry to art, conservation and writing. “ And, that holds true to date with over 200 trout tanks in schools throughout Virginia. TIC programs are in schools throughout the entire United States and have spawned other programs aimed at teaching a conservation ethic.

To learn more about Trout in the Classroom, please contact Krista Hodges, Education Outreach Manager and Trout in the Classroom Coordinator, at (276) 634-2592 or

The System

Trout in the Classroom Manual

The TIC Manual is a 47 page manual that includes everything from how to set up the entire trout system, how to maintain the system, what to do at release time, and several ideas on curriculum and lesson plans.

Equipment List

Entire list of equipment needed for our TIC program.


Below are two videos that might be helpful when dealing with your tank system.  One video focuses on the attachment of the hoses to the chiller.  This seems to be the most difficult part for most teachers. The other video explains what to do when changing out a chiller that is no longer working for a new chiller.  

How to hook hoses up to chiller

How to change out chillers

Videos & Photo Gallery

Trout-N-About 5.5k Race - Held on May 10th, 2014 /Fieldale Trail Access, Fieldale, VA Race Pictures. Race results can be found on the DRBA Facebook page

Presentations available to schools & groups:

  • Tub O Bugs
  • What is a watershed?
  • Pollution and Solutions
  • Trout Life Cycle
  • Smith River Dynamics and Food Web

For lesson plans related to Trout in the Classroom, please visit: