An Adventure in Conservation Science

Through the Shad in the Classroom Project, both teachers and students embark on a wonderful adventure in conservation science! Participating classrooms construct a tank, monitor water quality, and raise and release tiny fry (juvenile fish) in partnership with real fisheries biologists from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Whether you release one American shad fry or 1,000 your students will have hands-on activities that will help them learn about food webs, river basins, mapping activities, water quality, and river flow rates. There are several extension activities where students can expand their learning and earn a certificate, or find their ecological footprint.

The American shad is a migratory fish that used to be prevalent in all river systems in North Carolina. The fish spawns in freshwaters and lives most of its life in the ocean. As you will learn, it is a very important part of the food web in North Carolina. And, American shad played a significant role in the survival of the indigenous people, and the first settlers to the New World.

Applications for the Shad in the Classroom are available in the fall. This grant-funded program is available to educators at public and public charter schools. Please contact Melissa Dowland ( or 919.707.9898) if you are interested in applying to be a part of this program. For a brief description of the program, what to expect, and required commitment, please review What is it.

The Museum was recognized with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Director’s Conservation Award for its role in the program. Award Press Release


Right-click (control-click on Mac) to download movie files. Please note: some files are large and downloading may take a few minutes. Shad in the Classroom videos are also available on iTunesU.

Shad in the Classroom Overview

This video provides an overview of the program.

Build the Tank

This video provides information on how to construct a shad hatchery tank.

Add the Eggs

This video describes the process of adding shad eggs to your tank.

It is Time!

This video demonstrates proper techniques for releasing the fry.

American Shad Life Cycle

This video provides an overview of the life cycle of American shad.

American Shad History

This video discusses the natural and cultural history of American shad in North Carolina.

Dam Removal

This video addresses the effect dams have on American shad migration.

American Shad Restoration

This video provides information on the restoration of American shad through stocking efforts.

Josh Raabe - Migratory Fish Research

This video describes NC State University graduate student Josh Raabe's research project on migratory fish including American shad.


These activities were developed by numerous partners to enhance the North Carolina Standard Course of Study in several areas of curriculum and to help connect children with nature.

Supporters and Partners: