Earth Day – Ennis students plant trees, feed fish and tour hatchery

Two Ennis students point to schools of fish swimming in the raceways at the hatchery. Photo by Greg Lemon

Two Ennis students point to schools of fish swimming in the raceways at the hatchery. Photo by Greg Lemon

As Ennis school children poured out of yellow school buses and into the parking lot of the Ennis National Fish Hatchery, it seemed a little like any other spring field trip – the kids were jumping with the energy of anticipation and excitement of getting out of school, while shivering against the cool wind and temperatures.

Typical for this year, the weather last Wednesday morning was cold and the ground still partially frozen. But kids in Madison County are used to it and this group wasn’t going to let the cold slow them down.

The staff at the Ennis Fish Hatchery along with several volunteers had anticipated the excitement and cold weather both. The schedule was to first plant trees, then feed the fish in the hatchery and lastly tour the operations – all of this was followed by a lunch complete with fresh-grilled hotdogs and homemade cookies in the shapes of fish and trees.

After a short set of instructions nearly 100 children in colorful hats, mittens and winter coats fanned out on the hillside above the hatchery park looking for the pre-dug holes and potted trees to plant.

Inside the hatcheries long raceways, that hatchery’s various strains of rainbow trout waited impatiently for the tree planting to cease and the fish feeding to begin. It’s amazing what a couple of handfuls of fish feed will do to a tank full of hungry fish.

Kids giggled as the trout splashed their frantic approval.

Earth Day began in 1970 as a political movement for a cleaner, healthier environment. It’s a holiday that has increased in popularity worldwide over the last four decades. But for a group of kids from Ennis, this Earth Day was about getting outside and enjoying what would hopefully be one of the last cold and blustery days of spring.

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