If I asked you to name your favorite teacher, who would it be? You might pick a coach, and there’s no doubt that they have a great influence on young lives. But they aren’t the only ones working in the school.
I didn’t even realize who my favorite teacher was until I’d been on my own for several years. Her name was Elsie McConville. She taught English, composition, debate, encouraged creative writing and was perceived as a disciplinarian. I was far from being her star student “¦ I was the one who knew the words but couldn’t spell them.
Even so, she didn’t seem to hate what I wrote. She mailed my mother a couple of papers I’d penned and attached a note that said she should save them. I didn’t know that little secret for years. Her remarks were her last lesson and she wanted to encourage me to write. I wish I’d thanked her.
Bill Crow teaches environmental science at Perry High School in Lake County, and he’s that kind of teacher.
Under the direction of Mr. Crow, his class volunteers annually to work on the Ohio Stream Quality Monitoring Project. This year, students are participating in a special program called “Trout in the Classroom,” raising rainbow trout from eggs supplied by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The eggs were placed in a cold water tank and the students were tasked with monitoring and properly maintaining the equipment and ensuring that the hatched fingerlings were fed. The target length of the trout was about 3 inches, a stage in which they’re called fingerlings.
When achieved, the students vacate that classroom and resume their learning experience as they are led by Mr. Crow to the Grand River, where they’ll carefully release their charges into their new life’s currents.
As part of the project, Mr. Crow guides his students along the river’s banks several times a year to collect and survey aquatic organisms while compiling and scrutinizing biological and water quality data to determine the health of the river, all while instructing how best to work cooperatively with the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District with the recommendations of Division of Wildlife fisheries experts.
The “Trout in the Classroom” program, sponsored by Trout Unlimited, was first introduced on the East Coast in 1991, following the success of a similar program, “Salmon in the Classroom,” on the West Coast. It involves numerous collaborations among teachers, volunteers, government agencies and local organizations.
It was made possible through a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) grant from FirstEnergy Corp., which funded the equipment for the project that would house, hatch and raise the rainbow trout eggs.
“This project is an excellent environmental education tool that connects students to their watershed,” Mr. Crow said. “It helps them build a sense of responsibility to take care of our streams.”
Congratulations, Mr. Crow. I’ll bet some of those kids have met their favorite teacher, even if they don’t know it.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Along the way:
According to officials, rabbit populations may hit an all-time low this year, causing possible second thoughts within many state resource agencies as they formulate seasons and limits. Some have even indicated that curtailing the season could be required.
While the eastern cottontail rabbit is certainly one of our most common upland critters, it hasn’t always been so. Before Europeans came to the continent, the heavily wooded countryside wasn’t the most ideal habitat to support rabbit populations.
The clearing of land and initiation of extensive agriculture provided a much more inducive landscape for them to hop about and eke out a living. Their rural homes are not quite as productive as they once were, as farming practices have become cleaner and fewer brushy and odd areas exist. Of course, they have adapted to living on the edges of manicured lawns and parks, becoming a regular visitor to many yards and gardens.
The animals are also known to be “¦ well, rabbits. It’s estimated that if no young rabbits were lost from a litter, one pair of rabbits could produce 350,000 offspring in five years. Fortunately, that’s not ever likely to be a problem. They have a high mortality rate due to disease, accidents and the fact that they provide a tasty meal for predators, four-legged and two-legged. Very few rabbits celebrate a birthday.
The other bunny bouncing around Ohio is the snowshoe hare, which is far less numerous and a species of concern in the state. It’s restricted to extreme northeast and northwest Ohio. While sometimes confused with cottontails, the snowshoe is generally larger with longer legs and ears. A big difference is found in newborns between the species.
Cottontails are born blind, naked and defenseless and may take more than two weeks to leave the nest. In contrast, snowshoes arrive with a full coat of fur and open eyes, able to hop around just a few hours after birth. Snowshoes will also exchange their summertime fur coat of brown to one of thick white to better camouflage them during winter.
One official, who asked for anonymity, said that his concern for this year’s bunny populations stems from the lies of Punxsutawney Phil and resultant pummeling of the Midwest and East with a lengthy winter, late-season snows and frigid temperatures. He points out that this placed a great deal of pressure on rabbit and hare populations, restricting them to burrows with reduced food sources.
This, followed by the earlier-than-normal arrival of Easter, has pressed rabbit populations during the early breeding season. The long winter’s reduced food and exercise, combined with the required exertion of their annual assistance in hiding Easter eggs along with their subsequent exhaustion may well limit their most prolific capabilities.
He did mention that he expects both rabbit and hare populations to hop back well before next April 1.
Step outside:
• Tomorrow: Trap shoot, 1 p.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186.
• Thursday: Passport to Fishing, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wildlife District 2 office, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. Any adult, group or conservation club with an interest in taking kids fishing can become a certified Passport to Fishing instructor. Preregistration is required by Wednesday. Call Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• April 12: The Statewide Fish and Game Hearing on the 2018-2019 hunting season proposals. The hearing will be held at the Division of Wildlife’s District One office at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus.
• April 12 to 15: Fifty-first annual conference, Environmental Education Council of Ohio, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge. Keynote speaker is John Huston, focusing on his work to introduce nature to a population of at-risk youth. Friday night features historical re-enactment, and Saturday features educational field trips to Howard Marsh, National Museum of the Great Lakes, Toledo Botanical Gardens and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Graduate credit is available through Ashland University. Online registration closes April 9. For information and registration: https://eeco.wildapricot.org/event-2804347.
• April 21: Pheasants Forever banquet, Community Building at the Hardin County Fairgrounds. Hardin County is celebrating its 30th annual fundraiser for a very worthwhile organization. If already a Pheasants Forever member, the event ticket is $20; if not, the price is $55. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Water, coffee and pop will be provided, but you are welcome to bring along a cooler with your favorite adult beverage. For tickets, contact Tom Kier at 419-634-0824.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.