KALISPELL — It was a fun-filled afternoon at Dry Bridge Pond in Kalispell as 50 fourth-graders from Hedges Elementary School helped stock the pond with rainbow trout.
Five hundred two-year-old rainbow trout from the Creston Fish Hatchery were released into Dry Bridge Pond as kids hauled buckets and watched the trout splash in.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Fisheries Management Biologist Kenny Breidinger used the afternoon to teach valuable conservation lessons to the children.
“We try to give them a little bit of education about conservation and some of the threats of invasive species, invasions and non-native fish introductions,” said Breidinger.
Breidinger said teaching lessons at a young age goes a long way.
“We’ve actually done some angler interviews in other places when we’re out talking to people and a lot of adults remember programs like this or community fishing events or hooked on fishing program, it’s a great way to reach our anglers," added Breidinger.
Nine-year-old Seth Smiley loves fishing, and he had a blast with his classmates.
“I like the catching part and the releasing part and the joy of actually seeing a living animal not just getting freed again but being able to observe it and learn about it,” said Smiley.
Breidinger said stocking the pond full of trout is always a fun-filled day for the kids.
“They’re obviously out here having fun, it’s a good experience for them and because it’s a fun experience I hope it sticks with them for a long time,” said Breidinger.