Shad in the Classroom is a collaborative project that provides students with an understanding of the science process, inspiration for careers in science, and a desire to protect our waterways, particularly in the APNEP region.  This project allows students to gain hands-on experience raising American shad from egg to releasable fry. This effort is a collaboration led by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, with substantial financial support from APNEP.  Other contributing partners include Partnership for the Sounds, NC State University, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the NC Division of Water Resources and the NC Chapter of American Fisheries. The objective of this project is to build an understanding of the life history of shad and an appreciation for our natural world.

Watch a video about the Shad in the Classroom program

North Carolina’s rivers in the APNEP region and their floodplain habitat are important spawning grounds for anadromous fish, including the American shad. American shad populations are well below historic levels. Factors affecting the decline of American shad in its historical range include dam construction, overfishing, and water pollution. Shad runs no longer exist in areas where they used to thrive, and they are an important food source for many species both in the coastal and estuarine systems.  A fisheries management plan is in place that seeks to restore American shad populations to sustainable levels. Shad in the Classroom is an important outreach tool for raising students’ and communities’ consciousness on American shad and its management in the APNEP region. 

children at a shad release

Shad in the Classroom has three major components.  First, elementary and high school classrooms are equipped with the materials to raise shad, which include aquariums and shad eggs.  Next, teachers are provided with training to facilitate the program, which includes training on the process of raising and releasing shad. Finally, teachers are provided with multimedia presentations and high definition movies which can be used to complement instruction. 

In 2020 and 2021, Shad in the Classroom conducted interviews with diverse North Carolina aquatic biologists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is that these interviews can help students see that they, too, can become aquatic biologists. Students will discover that there are many different approaches to becoming an aquatic biologist, and that there are many different areas to study, such as biology, ecology, and oceanography.

Watch the Aquatic Biologist Interview Series

APNEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) actions addressed:

  • Communicate the importance of stewardship and offer opportunutes for volunteerism to further APNEP's mission. 
  • Provide and promote opportunities for outdoor experiences that connect individuas with the Albemarle-Pamlico ecosystem. 
  • Provide environmental education training opportunities for educators in the region. 


teacher at a shad release