Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado recently began implementing the National Fishing in Schools Program through their Physical Education Department. In order to enrich the program experience, the Boulder Flycasters got involved by offering additional instruction and education opportunities. Our support of this program got the kids outdoors seven days working on casting, fishing & streamside entomology. This is six more days than they had been outdoors all semester! Two days were spent on the school softball field receiving casting lessons from Bruning Rangel, Manager of the Boulder Orvis store, and a casting competition led by Larry Quilling.
Wallace Westfeldt from Front Range Anglers and Jim Shelly from the City of Boulder Water Treatment Department, tag-teamed for great sessions on entomology. Wallace taught the classroom basics and shared samples while Jim led a stream side collection day on South Boulder Creek near the McGinn ditch diversion. It was a strategically placed sampling location close to the US 36 highway bridge where students could escape the persistent rain showers. This is a great learning experience for the students. The biggest disappointment was running out of time to sample more than one location.
Ron Donahue, Drew Thomas and Larry Quilling led the students through fly tying. Ron is the expert demonstrator, Drew is a natural teacher and I am a hack! The cool part of these sessions is the concentration and focus the students have during their tying sessions. The flies they tied were used by the students to catch fish later at Viele Lake.
George Gumerman, Robert McCormack, Jake Lemon and Larry Quilling all helped the students test their skills at Viele Lake. There were four days the students spent at the lake and each day 5 to 6 fish were caught. It was not always pretty but the fishing caught the attention and interest of many of the kids. With high schoolers in the last two weeks of the spring semester, this is quite an accomplishment.
In summary, this program takes a lot of work and coordination but it is fully worth the outreach effort. We may only teach twenty-seven students in the class but the effect of our class goes well beyond the classroom. Other teachers and administrative staff know who we are and what we are doing for their school. Principal Don Stensrud asked that I thank our board for the program. Students shared their experiences with other students and other teachers noticed our presence. I am glad we have been able to re-establish this program and look forward to the fall when we can hopefully connect the class with a fishing field trip on the Poudre as we have done in past years.
---by Larry Quilling
The National Fishing in Schools Program (NFSP) has added numerous school sites throughout Colorado over the past year and will continue to expand with assistance from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. This program provides a great first touch that gets students excited about fly fishing. TU can be a great partner by enriching the programs as detailed above. To bring NFSP to your school or find existing NFSP programs in your area, please contact Jake Lemon, Colorado TU Youth Education Coordinator at 720-354-2646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.