Trout In the Classroom Management Report

TIC Management Working Group 

Our management working group deals with two sets of issues: first, what's the best way to manage the Maryland TIC program and who should do it, and how to manage and support TIC at the local level and who should do it.


This note discusses TIC management and support needs at the operational level as the precursor to working group discussion.


An important question we need to deal with is not whether (which I assume we agree on) but how we should seek to involve MAC chapters more substantively in oversight of TIC schools in their catchment areas. Right now, the burden of supporting TIC schools, essentially by being available when teachers run into TIC problems they are unable to deal with, and helping schools plan and carry out release programs, falls on a handful of volunteers mainly from Baltimore (Tom Gamper) and PPTU (Chuck Dinkel, Jim Robinson and me, assisted in PPTU's case by several extremely helpful and willing volunteers.)


What's the scale of operational help TIC schools need?  We have found that most first-year TIC teachers need a helping hand from time to time. New teachers particularly welcome help with setting up their tank systems for the first time. If the proper materials are on hand, that process takes no more than two hours and often less..


New teachers also need support when catastrophe occurs or when they consider it imminent. The average number of "911" visits per first-year teacher is not more than three. Each "911" visit probably lasts no more than 90 minutes. The two main issues, in general order, are an unexplained fingerling die off or an equipment failure. Sudden changes in water quality seem to rank third. All three often result from failure to follow protocols clearly laid out in the teacher's manual and discussed at the annual TIC training and orientation event.


No more than half of returning TIC teachers need emergency help during the school year and usually only once.


Most TIC teachers would welcome visits during the school year from someone associated with the program.  The teachers I have spoken with say that one monthly visit during the trout-raising process (February, March and April) would be helpful, and especially useful if the visit could include discussion of some TIC-related topic such as stream entomology or a fly-tying demonstration.


Teachers also seek TU volunteer help in planning and conducting release programs. Probably the need per school would be less than two hours of TU phone help in planning the release program, and three TU volunteers for three hours on-site plus 2 hours' travel time per release program, a maximum total of 17 TU-hours per release.


The other routine volunteer activity would be delivery of fertilized Kamloops rainbow eggs and food to schools in early January.  We generally work with around 30 volunteers, six or seven who collect at the Albert Powell Hatchery and redistribute to 20-odd others at subcollection points who then deliver direct to schools. Last year we estimate that process took an average of seven hours per volunteer collecting at Albert Powell and four hours per volunteer at subcollection pointsTotal - 145 hours


To get a sense of scale, a rough upper bound estimate of TU volunteer time per TIC school year would be no more than:

Returning teachers - 3 one-hour routine school visit sessions plus 1.5 hours round-trip travel, 0.5 hours emergency help plus 1.5 hours round-trip travel, Total - 9.5 volunteer-hours

First-time teachers - tank set-up, 2 hours plus 1.5 hours round-trip travel, "911" visits 4.5 hours plus 4.5 hours round-trip travel, 3 monthly one-hour visits plus 1.5 hours round-trip travel Total - 20 volunteer-hours

Release programs - planning 2 hours, participation 15 hours Total - 17 volunteer-hours

Egg and Food Delivery - 145/64 = 2.5 volunteer hours

TOTAL TU Volunteer hours per school:

    New Teacher - 39.5

     Returning Teacher – 29


 If responsibility for schools in the 2012-13 TIC program were to be distributed by chapter catchment zipcode as defined by TU national, the number of TIC schools and needed TIC volunteer hours would be:


National Capital - 4 existing, one new - 155.5 volunteer hours

Maryland - 7 existing, 10 new - 671.5 volunteer hours

Potomac-Patuxent - 3 existing, 6 new - 324 volunteer hours

Seneca Valley - 11 existing, 7 new - 595.5 volunteer hours

Youghiogheny - 1 existing, 1 new - 68.5 volunteer hours

Patapsco - 10 existing, 5 new - 487.5 volunteer hours


That totals an estimated upper bound of 2263 TU-hours for the program at its 2012-13 level.


FYI As of today, it looks like we'll be able to cap the TIC program for 2013-14 at 75 facilities: 71 schools requiring some degree of TU volunteer intervention, and four non-school education centers which can function on their own. Attached is a current list of 2013-14 TIC schools and facilities.


Clearly we need to find ways to reduce the mismatch between current operational management needs and volunteer time availabilities. We could work smarter by reducing routine school visits and limiting participation in release programs. However that would go against TU's emphasis on priority attention to reaching the next generation of conservation-minded adults and prospective TU members.


We could cut back on further TIC expansion, requiring local TU chapters to guarantee support of any new school as a main condition of admission to the program.


We also could cut back on overall TU operational support to schools, particularly if current plans to develop TIC teacher networks succeed in identifying experienced TIC teachers willing to take on a phone mentor role for those with major problems. And there's always the sink-or-swim option particularly for returning schools, with TU resources concentrated only on the newbies.


There are permutations and combinations of approaches to ensure smooth TIC operation at the local level. Please think about what might make sense to do and feel free to share your views with other working group members.  Maybe we can even have time to discuss some ideas at Sunday's MAC meeting.


Jim Greene and Chuck Dinkel, co-coordinators
Maryland Trout in the Classroom