Mussels in the Classroom

Students learn about the importance of mussels to an ecosystem, their life cycle and their current status in the environment.

A first in the nation!

Introduced in fall 2017, our Mussels in the Classroom (MIC) program is open to grades K-12. This is the first classroom-based mussel education program in the U.S. (maybe the world!). It originated because of the increasing interest and work repopulating rivers with native freshwater mussels. As agencies partnered with ORF in repatriating activities, there was interest in leveraging ORF’s education program expertise to involve students in a mussel education program.

Mussels in the Classroom strengthens real-world connections to science curricula and helps students better understand the complexity of aquatic environments. It’s also an important step in educating people about these overlooked species: People often know that fish species inhabit our rivers and streams, but they aren’t as aware of freshwater mussels’ presence.

Russell the Mussel Book

All participating students grades 4 – 6 will receive a free Russel the Mussel Book!

The MIC program kicks off with an in-classroom visit (learn about virtual options below) from an ORF educator, who brings freshwater mussels, shells and other items to deliver a 45-minute to 1-hour hands-on learning experience. Students learn about the importance of mussels to an ecosystem, their life cycle and their current status in the environment. The educator leaves behind an aquarium and the necessary equipment for students and teachers to care for and monitor mussels for two weeks.

We provide the teachers specific guidelines and protocols for the health and well-being of the mussels, as well optional activities and lesson plans. Teachers and students may also create their own activities, which fosters creativity and scientific exploration.

While not a requirement, preferential consideration will be given to schools also participating in a River Explorer field trip (not applicable for Lexington, Frankfort and Georgetown area applicants).

All equipment (aquaria, filters, etc.), lesson plans, mussels and supplies will be provided. Duration is 2 weeks. Availability is Sept. 1 through Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 through June 1. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Fees: $100 for 2 weeks.

Virtual options available!

We offer a recorded version of the in-class presentation and can also coordinate after school tank drop-off and pick-up. If you have any questions or want to discuss other options, contact us.


Let’s talk and find out how we can help you! Please contact us or call 513-460-3365.

Donations and Memberships​

Support the Ohio River Foundation

We know how important water is to you. Reducing pollution, restoring habitat, educating and training the next generation of environmental stewards, and ensuring clean water for you and millions of fellow citizens, all keeps us working on your behalf.

Tree graphic

Streamside Buffers

$25 can plant five native trees as a streamside buffer.

cat tails in a lake graphic

Water Quality Equipment

$100 can buy water quality equipment to enable us to identify pollution problems.

fish in river graphic

New River Explorers

$500 can help 50 students be River Explorers for a day of learning in a river or creek.

shovel in dirt next to plant graphic

Youth Conservation Teams

$1,000 can fund a high school Youth Conservation Team for a day of conservation work and learning.

Share This