Martinsville pet store making sure area's "Trout in the Classroom" project continues

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) - Since 2005, thanks to the Dan River Basin Association trout fish tanks have been in classrooms in Martinsville and Henry County schools.

Students monitor the eggs as they mature, learning about the life cycle of trout and the ecosystem in the Smith River.

But, the Dan River Basin Association has run out of money for the project.

"There are no tanks in the Henry County Public Schools this year," said Krista Hodges, DRBA's Trout In The Classroom coordinator.

Albert Harris and Patrick Henry Elementary in Martinsville have tanks, but only because the schools themselves can afford to maintain them.

So over the summer, the Dan River Basin Association reached out to TJ's Pets and Aquatics for help.

Owner Antonio Pritchett says he was more than happy to.

"For one, I wanted to give the kids that come in the store here an opportunity to see the Brook Trout," Pritchett explained.

He set up a 210 gallon tank with mature trout and a 55 gallon tank with trout eggs.

"Part of our mission is to preserve and promote the natural resources," said Hodges. "The Smith River is the only trout stream in Henry County."

Helping the community understand that is something Pritchett feels is part of his responsibility as a business owner.

"Your community's ultimately your success. So, if you don't give back, if you don't pay it forward, you're not going to succeed," Pritchett said.

He hopes to eventually be able to take groups of children to the river and let them release the mature trout so that the kids can get a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the environment.

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