An Adventure in Conservation Science

Through the Shad in the Classroom Project, teachers and students embark on an 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 a hands-on experience that will help them learn about food webs, river basins, water quality and fisheries management. Supplemental activities cover topics ranging from the traditional art of fish printing to determining fish parentage using genetics.

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 Danielle Pender ( if you are interested in applying to be part of this program.

For a brief description of the program, what to expect, and required commitment, please review What is it (Word Doc.).

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


Explore our Shad in the Classroom YouTube video library to learn more about this amazing species of fish. You'll find general information on American Shad biology, historical significance, management and habitat including the 2018 Gold Telly-award-winning film, "We are the River"; how-to videos for classrooms particiipating in the Shad in the Classroom program; and interviews with diverse North Carolina aquatic biologists that can help students explore career paths in natural sciences.


Looking for ways to incorporate American Shad into your teaching? Try one of our curriculum-correlated classroom activities. Explore the life cycle of American Shad, demonstrate how anadromous fish return to their natal river, create a shad art project and more!

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