PHILADELPHIA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Small fish with a big purpose.

Andrea Insera’s 9th-grade biology class at Indian River High School looks similar to a science lab, with numerous structures that grow plants and fish tanks.

One of the fish tanks is full of over 200 Brook trout, a species native to the North Country. Her biology class has spent months raising these fish from eggs.

“As a student, you don’t think you get to watch fish grow,” Biology student Mykla Cossey shared. “It’s such a unique experience.”

“We’ve all seen the trouts grow from little to how they are now,” Kassey Soto added. “It’s been a whole experience because now we’re about to go let them out.”

A portion of the class’s project included fieldwork. Students attended field trips where they visited local creeks, with a goal of releasing their Brook trout later this spring.

Students tested the waters of several creeks to eventually choose a water body that was an ideal habitat for their fish.

“We found ou that there’s one place that would be better because there’s less turbidity in that area,” Student Kevin Garcia shared. “And it would be healthier for the fish to be raised there.”

Because Brook trout require cold water to thrive, the tank inside Insera’s class where the fish currently live, is covered in tin foil. This prevents unwanted heating.

However, the class found that their chosen creek often heats up due to sunlight, and is at risk of being trampled by nearby cows. Insera’s class then decided to plant trees along the creek to create a more suitable habitat for the trout.

“For one, it will cool the soil,” Student Leann Bates explained. “The other reason is that all the trees have shade, so they can make the water cool.”

The class planted these trees on May 5. These lessons not only help students pass the class but Insera said she hopes it’s taught them to love nature and protect their environment.

“With place-based projects, the kids really make and internal connection to the place where they live,” Insera shared. “Not only are they learning the biology, but they are really going to care for the environment. It’s going to touch them inside.”

And her students prove this statement true.

“It’s important to take care of the environment, keep the earth clean, the water’s clean,” Joshua Aladae said. “So we can have trout for many years.”

“And not only just trout,” Jeremiah Ewieg added. “A variety of fish in the river.”

Truly a class these students will never forget.