A rod, a reel, and research; college students take field trip

Quincy University ecology students got let off the hook from the traditional classroom setting as they trolled their way down a dirt road to a pond in a small town of Missouri where they reeled in their bio research on the chilly Monday morning ahead of Halloween weekend.

Instead of learning the lesson through PowerPoints and textbooks, the students were given a hook, line, and sinker.

“We’re somewhere in Missouri at a pond and we’re here to catch bluegills,” Jaren Arnold, an ecology student said.

Dr. Joseph R. Coelho, professor of biology, who was raised on a working farm and cattle ranch in northern California, escorted his ecology class to his own private pond in Ewing, Missouri, 30-minutes away from North Campus.

The populated town of 427 people as of 2020 received scattered rain throughout the weekend prior as rubber boots were suitable in squelching across the wet and muddy leaves that covered the trails leading up to the body of water.

For the first time anglers, Coelho began the research activity by instructing the class on the fundamentals of fishing and how to hook a j-shaped hook.

It took a matter of seconds for the first fish to strike.

Once a bluegill was caught and reeled into shore, the students turned in the fish to Coelho, who proceeded to measure the fish as well as remove a few of its rough scales.

The scales were taped and labeled to a piece of paper. For more accurate aquatic research and for the sake of students not catching the same fish again, the bluegill was thrown into a trap that sank under the water.

The ecology class will eventually dissect the scales where they will determine the age and projected growth of the fish.

The adrenaline rush of reeling in a common 7.5-inch bluegill entertained ecology student, Nathan Smith, all morning.

“I think this is a fantastic opportunity,” Smith said. “It gives a lot of students a chance to fish for the first time and a lot of them don’t get that experience. I think it is absolutely great.”

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