Tatiana Cedeno, a seventh-grade student at the Breakthrough Magnet School in Hartford, said she has some advice for the sixth-graders getting ready to hatch some salmon eggs.
"Don't get too attached, because some of them die," said Tatiana, who participated in the program last year.
Luckily, mortality levels were low. Last year just two of the 200 eggs the students raised failed to thrive before the hatchlings could be taken by the students to the Salmon River in East Hampton and released.
This is the fourth year that the salmon project has been held at Breakthrough, which is one of more than 70 schools around the state that are participating this year. The project is operated by the Connecticut River Salmon Association, which supplies about 19,000 eggs, guidance, teacher education and training and technical assistance. About 6,000 students are expected to participate.
Riverfront Recapture is also a partner in the program in Hartford. Craig Mergins, assistant director of community relations and park operations, delivered the eggs to the school Thursday in a Hartford Fire Department firetruck, with sirens blaring and lights flashing to get the students excited about the project.
"Today we tried to make a little hoopla," he said.
Mergins said the program "opens a door" for city children to learn more about the history of salmon in the Connecticut River and how things have changed. Mergins also brings in guest speakers from the Hartford Police Department to give students an opportunity to learn about careers in law enforcement and discuss bullying issues.
"The program offers career development, environmental education and violence prevention," Mergins said, adding that it is important for city children to maintain a connection with the Connecticut River.
Once in the classroom, some of the nearly 70 sixth- and seventh-grade students in the program had a chance to look at the little orange eggs before they were placed in the Styrofoam-covered holding tank they will live in until May. The eggs can't be exposed to light or they will die.
"It's your job to make sure you take care of this new batch," Mergins said.
Santos Encarnacion, a seventh-grade student, said the project was difficult at first last year, but after a month or so he got the hang of it.
"We learned a lot about how to take care of them and keep them from dying," Santos said, adding that his favorite part of the project was the trip to the Salmon River for the release.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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