Native Fish in the Classroom

Native Fish in the Classroom

What is Native Fish in the Classroom?



To assist students in developing an attitude of stewardship toward Louisiana’s natural resources and to provide for them a constructive, active learning situation in which students can explore strategies for sustaining our aquatic ecosystems.


  • Provide students in grades 6th through 12th with background information on fisheries management, fish biology, protected species, and aquatic natural resources.
  • Maintain a classroom-based nursery aquarium in which students grow native, Louisiana fish, paddlefish, from eggs to fingerlings.
  • Produce paddlefish that can be used by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery to help manage a protected fish population in Louisiana.
  • Assist students in developing an attitude of stewardship toward the state’s natural resources. Students will gain awareness of freshwater ecological systems by helping prevent the loss of a protected fish, benefiting the whole freshwater system.

Why paddlefish?

  • Paddlefish spawning cycles coincide with the spring semester of school year
  • Paddlefish eggs are large enough to view with the naked eye
  • They have distinctive life-stages and develop into fingerlings in about a month and a half
  • They are a regulated species of conservation concern in Louisiana
  • They are a living fossil

How do paddlefish get to the classroom?

  • Qualified candidates, who teach 6th through 12th grade students in Louisiana, may apply. However, this program is geared towards science-based content which is aligned to the state standards.
  • Candidates will submit an application, attend all workshops, the spawn event, and the release event.
  • The candidate’s principal will provide a letter of support for the program through the application process.
  • The application period opens in the spring and closes June 30th of each year.

Participation in NFC includes:

  • Two training workshops: summer and winter which focus on biology, fisheries management, aquaculture maintenance, importance of native species, and stewardship
  • Teacher manual: background information, aquaria setup and maintenance, and lesson plans
  • Equipment loaned by LDWF: aquaria setup and supplies
  • Support: who to contact for help and trouble-shooting
  • Logging classroom hours through an online portal and completing an end of year survey


  • July/August: attend orientation workshop
  • September: set up tank in classroom and stock with catfish or bluegill
  • September-December: continually monitor water quality and tank maintenance
  • January/February: pre-spawn workshop
  • March: attend spawn event (bring eggs back to school with you)
  • March-April: rearing of fish to fingerling size
  • April/May: return fingerlings to the Mermentau River Basin in Jennings

For more information, contact: