School bells are ringing at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium these days, and it's not just a call to order for the tens of thousands of fish that swim in class formation.
First graders from Massapequa's Unqua Elementary School recently attended the Hatchery's Habitats Program. After visiting the aquariums where they compared and contrasted the different habitats of fish, turtles and other reptiles, they toured the Hatchery's outdoor trout ponds.
"The children were excited and enthusiastic. The Habitats Program coincides with the New State Curriculum. Our district has been coming to the Hatchery for years," said Mrs. Lee Flemming, first grade teacher at Unqua Elementary School.
More than 300 school groups from across Long Island and New York City visit the Hatchery on a yearly basis. They've been coming since 1982 when the Hatchery became a non-profit educational institution. From pre-school through college, students are offered a variety of presentations with specific topics adapted according to their needs. A sampling of the programs include, Fins and Jaws where the youngest of students learn about the basics of aquatic life, Adaptations, for third and fourth graders, and Herpetology for high school students.
The Hatchery's educational department also offers a multitude of seasonal programs, such as Freshwater Ecology, Egg Stripping and Pond Life, again for students of all ages.
Jeanne Lynch, the Hatchery's Environmental Educational Director enjoys working with her visiting students.
"If even just one student remembers just one thing I've told them, I've done my job, I've taught them something. I aim to introduce kids to nature and get them excited so they'll want to learn more," said Jeanne.
The Hatchery, after 99 years of operation as a State facility opened as a private non-profit educational institution in 1982.
Its visitors can tour two aquarium buildings, which house many species of freshwater fish, aquatic reptiles and amphibians, all native to New York. There are six outdoor ponds where brook, brown and rainbow trout are raised and sold to enthusiasts who use them to stock their ponds.
In addition to the trout ponds, the Hatchery also maintains a warm water fish pond and a turtle pond. Catch & Keep Trout Fishing is a recent addition to Hatchery activities.
The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium is open year round, seven days a week, from 10:00 to 5:00 p.m. For fishing hours and for other information contact either Norman Soule, director, or Diane Lundegaard, press contact person at 692-6768.