After being born and raised in a Toronto classroom, more than 50 endangered Atlantic salmon swam into the wild at the Greenwood Conservation Area in Ajax on Tuesday.

Students release salmon into a Lake Ontario tributary

As a class they raise and monitor endangered Atlantic salmon at school and they develop a personal connection to the fish and are invested in the entire process, according to the Zoo. (Debbie Lightle-Quan/CBC)

Students kept the young salmon at bone-chilling four degree temperatures in a hatchery in their classroom since January 2013. The class saw the eggs hatch and raised the fish for release with the Toronto Zoo’s Aqua-Links Program.

The program links students in Ontario with students in Uganda for joined water conservation efforts, as both areas are considered Great Lakes regions of the world. The program is meant to foster stewardship and appreciation for water as a precious resource, as well as for the fish that call these lakes home. In Uganda, students raise and release brightly coloured haplochromine cichlids or East African cichlids.

Since 2009, the Aqua-Links Program has released over 4,000 Atlantic salmon fry. And since May 2013, the program has expanded, with 16 schools in five different school boards releasing over 2,000 Atlantic salmon fry into tributaries of Lake Ontario.