Students at Saint John School in Ashtabula Raise Rainbow Trout, Inspired by Pope Francis’ “Laudate Deum”

Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum was released last year on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. It’s a follow up to his encyclical, Laudato Si’  which was released nearly 10 years ago, asking the public to seek action on environmental concerns and climate change. Many Catholic entities throughout the Diocese of Youngstown are doing their part to educate and advocate. Our Dennis Biviano takes us to one such school, Saint John School in Ashtabula, to learn more about their conservation efforts. Ashtabula County is known for its rainbow trout and the eco-tourism it brings. After three months of raising rainbow trout in Lesley Baker’s environmental science class, these students are giving one last feeding to the fish and loading them up for release into their natural habitat. 

187, or 72% of the original 258 trout survived in the classroom setting. A success for the class. In nature though, it’s a much different story.   

“It is less than 10% that will survive. So here we’re able to show stewardship and conservation through trout in our classroom,” says Baker. 

Rainbow trout need to have temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit early in development. Here at Hubbard Run, in Indian Trails Park, a tributary of the Ashtabula River, students release dozens of rainbow trout to their natural habitat. It’s a peaceful, yet bittersweet moment for them. “It was a mixture of emotions. It was really exciting to see them from growing and being able to be released and having their own atmosphere. But also really sad because you know we raised them,” says junior Rowan Britton. 

“Fish stress a lot. It can be anything in the habitat to just a bunch of mud in the water to the temperature being barely three degrees higher. Definitely a greater appreciation for nature and all the little things that are out here,” says junior Aaron Wychock. 

This is the sixth year Baker has taken part in the rainbow trout raising project at St. John. 

Her goal every year is to establish a connection with students and nature. And one day, they may experience a full circle moment. 

“”They actually get to watch them grow and develop. They watch them hatch into alevin and then from there we’re now releasing them into their parr stage. And later, some of them may even get a chance to catch them,” says Baker. 

Not only that, but a reminder to remain environmentally conscious. 

“Can’t really take it for granted you know. We gotta protect our ecosystem and our environments,” says Wychock. 

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Dennis Biviano

Dennis Biviano serves as the Public Relations and Media Specialist for the Diocese of Youngstown as the diocese’s chief point of contact with journalists. Biviano brings 20 years of TV News reporting experience to the Communications Department. He is a graduate of John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Warren and Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism. He has worked as a Multimedia Journalist in the Mahoning Valley for WKBN & WYTV, as well as Charter Communications (Spectrum News 1) for seven years. Biviano is an active member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Niles with his family.
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