By Chuck Dinkel
During the 2010 – 2011 school year, nine Frederick county schools participated in the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program. TIC systems for two of the schools, Thurmont MS and Gov. TJ MS were funded by CFA. During the current year Carroll Manor ES has chosen not to continue in TIC. Their system has been moved to Tuscarora HS which is one of four additional schools that will join the program. The other three schools are Middletown HS, St John Regional Catholic School, and the Barnesville School. I have also had inquiries from Walkersville HS and Mountainside Retreat/Camp and Day Care Center in Urbana.
In 2008, Governor Martin O’Malley appointed a taskforce charged with identifying opportunities to expand and improve environmental and outdoor education in Maryland schools. What emerged from this group was the Maryland Plan for Children in Nature. On June 21, 2011, the Maryland Board of Education unanimously decided that one of the key recommendations of the plan be implemented, a requirement that all high school students complete a course of study in environmental literacy before graduation. Coupled with this is a desire by educators to ensure that all Maryland students have a curriculum-aligned Meaningful Outdoor Experience (MOE) at least once a year. It is possible that a percentage of the recent growth in the number of schools participating in TIC can be traced back to the 2008 plan calling for an increase in outdoor learning and the No Child Left Inside mandate. For example, just this summer one of the TIC coordinators, Chuck Dinkel, received inquiries from three high school science teachers about the program. At least two of these teachers plan to include TIC as part of their curriculum this year. These will be the first two TIC high schools in Maryland.