Brown Trout spawning in a stream by building a nest or a “redd” to release and fertilize their eggs.

While the boat has left the marina and public and eco cruises have ended until next season, Discover Cayuga Lake transitions from environmental education on board the MV Teal to bringing educational programming into the classroom setting. This Fall, DCL, partnering with the Department of Environmental Conservation, launched the 2023 Finger Lakes Trout in the Classroom (TIC) season. In this program, 25 schools throughout Tompkins and surrounding counties host an aquarium in their classroom where they raise trout eggs through several stages of development before releasing them into nearby streams next Spring.

Brown and Brook Trout are collected from the DEC Hatchery in Bath, NY and the SUNY Morrisville Hatchery, respectively. When eggs are delivered to schools participating in the TIC program, they are expected to hatch within a week or two of arrival. Students observe early development in the “alevin” stage, where translucent, tadpole-looking trout still connected to their yolk sac develop their fins, gills and digestive system. From this stage, trout will develop into the “Fry” phase, where they have absorbed their nutrient-containing yolk sac and begin swimming to the surface for food. Later, trout will enter the “Fingerling,” stage, which as guessed, is about the size of a finger, and will be the stage trout will remain when they are released into the wild.

More than 60 classrooms and about 1500 students across the Cayuga and Seneca Lake watershed participate in DCL’s Trout in the Classroom program. As a part of Discover Cayuga Lake’s mission, the goal of this program is to help students living around the nearby Finger Lakes to understand their connectivity to their local watershed. Trout are a great vehicle for understanding the significance of taking care of a watershed. As students learn to care for their trout and make observations and inquiries about their habitat, food source and lifecycle, students learn to see the connection between the trout, water resources, the environment and themselves.

Brook Trout eggs collected from SUNY Morrisville Hatchery and delivered to schools participating in the Finger Lakes Trout in the Classroom Program.


This educational programming complements DCL’s Eco-Tourism Cruises during the Spring, Summer and early Fall aboard the MV Teal. The Floating Classroom Eco-Cruise enables students to take their Trout in the Classroom knowledge and apply it to lake science experiences on the boat, like collecting plankton samples and testing water temperature. The Osprey Eco Cruise allows the public to view Osprey nests around the lake, and learn more about this indicator species who is dependent on a healthy watershed to eat and thrive on Cayuga Lake.

Community participation in DCL’s Public Cruise and Eco Cruises, private charters as well as local sponsorships, help make educational programming like Trout in the Classroom and Floating Classroom happen. Visit our donation page to find out more about how to support or sponsor Discover Cayuga Lake’s mission of watershed environmental education. Or plan ahead for next Spring by viewing our cruise options, booking a private charter or buying a Lake Lovers Season Pass. Stay tuned to our blog and social media accounts for more winter news and we hope to see you on the boat with us next Spring!