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Whitefish Twp. School students release 3,500 brown trout

A bucket brigade was formed from the top of the Gorge View entrance to the Tahquamenon River at the Upper Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Students and faculty from Whitefish Township Community School in Paradise teamed up with the DNR and Oden State Fish Hatchery to release just over 3,500 brown trout into the Tahquamenon River.

The event occurred Monday at the Upper Falls of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

For the past 13 years, the K-12 students at the small school have taken a day out of class to help re-stock the fish in the nearby popular state park.

However, before the release even happened, science teacher Peggy Imhoff, said the students learn about the fish and today's project in the classroom.

"We have a class that takes care of the fish as they progress and then they are in charge of putting them in the river. It is very very cool. The kids always look forward to it doing the bucket brigade. They learn a lot about the fishery industry and why we stock the fish. They love it even though it is a lot of work," Imhoff said.

And work they did.

After having lunch on the park grounds, the entire school of 46 students, along with parents, teachers and DNR officials met the hatchery truck at the Gorge View entrance.  

With a couple dozen buckets, the bucket brigade began at the top of the entrance with buckets of fish being handed down from person to person to students in the river emptying them in.  

Then the bucket brigade continued back up with the empty buckets.

Mind you, there was a winding flight of stairs with 180 steps the bucket brigade had to navigate.

Vince Gross, Superintendent of Whitefish Township Community Schools, said it took around two hours to empty all the fish into the river.

"The kids really enjoy this. They talk about it all the time. Anytime anybody comes to the Falls, they gleam with pride because they were a part of it. Then sometimes when the kids go to restaurants and they see some trout on the table, they kind of think back that they had an impact on our environment," Gross said.

Some of the students today were there when this program first started 13 years ago.

"For some of the kids that are now in high school, have been a part of this since they were kindergartners so now they will be in the water and release the trout into the water," Gross said.