ADVANCE, N.C. -- Textbooks, formulas and projects are taking center stage in one classroom. Ms. Keeney's class is getting a hands on approach when it comes to learning about the environment.
"It's one of my favorite classes," said Brant Dupree, an eighth grader at Ellis Middle School. He's one of many students learning about trout.
"It had this thing back there called the air bladder and it would keep it afloat when it was sleeping and stuff," said Dupree. "Then it has all of the organs we have, intestines, heart, pretty much everything in that area."
The class teamed up with Trout Unlimited, a national organization that focuses on protecting, conserving and restoring old water fisheries and watersheds. It costs about $1,400 per classroom to set up a tank. The funding for the project comes from fundraisers and donations through Trout Unlimited chapters.
"We have to have the support from the teachers. We couldn't do this without them," said Brandon Frakes with the Blue Ridge chapter.
Two years ago, the Blue Ridge Chapter made the offer to bring the project 'Trout in the Classroom' to Ellis Middle School. It was an offer Keeney couldn't refuse.
"When you look at what the state of North Carolina expects the students to learn throughout the year, we deal with all the water and what people do to hurt the water and it ties right into the needs of the trout," said Dana Keeney.
Classrooms participating in the project start with a 55 gallon tank and at least 200 eggs.
"I think it has a big impact of how difficult it truly is to have fish in a controlled environment. The survival rate for these fish when we start with 300 or 400 a lot of times we end up with none or maybe a dozen," said Frakes.
In addition to nurturing and raising the fish, they also learn about their habitats. At the end of the year, the student and dozens of her peers will release the trout into the wild and educators hope they will walk away with a better understanding of how to take care of the environment.
"If you like it today and you want it to be around tomorrow, you better take part," said Frakes.