Youth Education

ELK and CTU partner up to teach Denver youth fly fishing

 CTU Youth Outreach Intern, Nicholas Krishnan helps students with attaching their leaders to their fly lines.

CTU Youth Outreach Intern, Nicholas Krishnan helps students with attaching their leaders to their fly lines.

On August 8th, 2018 a group of 10 Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) Urban Rangers - youth leaders who help teach ELK programs for other kids- along with Colorado Trout Unlimited volunteers headed up to Clear Creek in Jefferson County to spend the day learning about trout and fly fishing. All of this was put together by CTU's Youth Outreach Intern, Nicholas Krishnan. He has been working with this summer to identify and organize a collaborative program to provide Denver youth an opportunity to get outside and learn all about fly fishing. ELK graciously agreed to participate in this collaborative effort and without them it wouldn't have been possible. A huge thank you to them for helping make this a success. Please consider checking out ELK as they are empowering Denver's youth through outdoor learning. 

The day consisted of a little bit of everything to maximize our time on the water. Students learned all about trout including the different species, biology, diseases, and invasives that affect their habitat. From there, gear was distributed to each of the students including a fly rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, and a stocked fly box. Gear was generously donated by Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle, Orvis Park Meadows, Cabela's Lone Tree, Anglers Accessories, Denver Angler and CTU. Flies were tied by Liz Smith, Dick Shinton, Ryan Riley-Buttram from the Greenbacks, Dr. Jacob Kinnard and Will McDonough. Professional photography services that day were provided by Catherine Belme and Shaw Taylor

 After a full day of learning and fishing, the students enjoyed wading in to cool off!

After a full day of learning and fishing, the students enjoyed wading in to cool off!

The students practiced their casting, knot tying, and setting up their fly rod before hitting the water. Each student was paired up with one of our volunteers providing one-on-one teaching. Everyone enjoyed wading out into the river and one of the students caught two fish! Towards the end of the day, many of the students decided to cool off by wading in waist deep to the middle of Clear Creek. You could overhear one of the students exclaim, "I feel like a kid out here". Check out some of the pictures from the day below. Again a huge thank you to all the volunteers, ELK students and staff, donors, and most of all, CTU Intern Nicholas Krishnan for organizing the whole thing. Great job everyone!

CTU is Hiring! Youth Education VISTA Position

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Are you looking for ways to help support youth education around Colorado?  Join the team at Colorado TU as the AmeriCorps VISTA Youth Education Coordinator!  Job description and application details are below.  Candidates MUST apply for the position through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  

Application Deadline: Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Job Description: 

Colorado TU’s STREAM of Engagement program aims to engage the next generation in conservation, and to extend STEM learning and outdoor experiences to underserved and minority youth in communities where Colorado TU chapters can help deliver youth programs. We will provide opportunities for youth to benefit from healthy outdoor activity and to improve their economic prospects through the development of skills and interest in STEM fields, as well as improving connection and commitment to the health of their home watersheds, which are essential to the community’s well-being and economy.

This VISTA position will help link communities of need with the resources and volunteer capacity of Colorado TU chapters (24 located around the state) to provide educational programming to youth. The program will focus on building sustainable capacity to deliver effective and compelling programs to youth in communities that can be served through TU chapters and local partners. Efforts will include development of new partnerships with community groups, securing financial and other needed resources, recruitment and cultivation of volunteers, development of curricular and other support materials, and organizing training for volunteer leaders and educators.

Other responsibilities include: 

(1)   Identify communities of need in proximity to CTU chapters that can provide youth outdoor education programs; determine local groups in these communities with which TU can collaborate to serve youth populations; and develop agreements with groups for program delivery.

(2)   Assemble, develop, and/or refine curricular and training materials for CTU “STREAM of Engagement” programs including establishing an online clearinghouse of this information; and develop and host in-person training for educators and volunteer leaders.

(3)   Help enhance organizational capacity through grantwriting to secure funds for youth programs, securing equipment needed for program sites and regional “lending libraries” of gear to be shared among sites, and assisting local program leaders in effective volunteer recruitment.

(4)   Establish pilot project(s) for new program(s) (e.g., STREAM girls with Girl Scouts), conduct program evaluation, and develop recommendations for effective and sustainable delivery of the new program(s) as they expand to new sites.

(5)   Work with CTU Headwaters committee to develop effective organizational coordination processes and structures.


Candidates must have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Preferred candidates will have experience in outdoor/environmental education, teaching, working with youth, grant writing, community organizing, and a basic knowledge of fly fishing (not required).  Experience in working with underserved communities, speaking multiple languages, and knowledge of Trout Unlimited is a plus.   


The successful candidate will receive benefits through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which can include a living stipend, base salary, student loan deferment, and tuition awards.

Full-Time Position. Start time frame: September.

Apply Today!

To apply for the position, please complete the following process:

Step 1: Email a copy of your resume and a cover letter to David Nickum, Executive Director, Colorado Trout Unlimited by Tuesday August 7.

Step 2: Apply for the formal position at AmeriCorps VISTA. How to Apply for a VISTA Position Guide


For questions, please contact David Nickum (

Thank you for your interest in this position!

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Fishing with Kids: 5 tips to keep them coming back

 Courtesy of Trout Unlimited/Joshua Duplechain

Courtesy of Trout Unlimited/Joshua Duplechain

Learning a new activity when you are younger can go two ways: amazing or not so great. That probably is still true as an adult, but when taking a child fishing, having a great time or not can make all the difference. Obviously, every child is different, but if there was one thing to keep in mind? Stay excited and someone HAS to catch a fish.

1. Patience and Understanding

 Courtesy of Trout Unlimited/Joshua Duplechain

Courtesy of Trout Unlimited/Joshua Duplechain

It goes without saying that most people respond well to learning a new skill if the teacher is patient in the process and understands that mistakes will happen. Having a chill attitude and rolling with the punches will ensure that everyone will have a good time! You might not get to fish much, but there will always be a chance to go out yourself another time. This outing is about the child.

2. Excitement is Contagious

We feed off of each other's excitement, and kids do the same! If you are excited for them to catch a fish or learn how to cast, then that energy can help keep them going even when the struggles of fishing are real! It's easy to become disappointed when someone isn't as receptive to one of your favorite pastimes. When all else fails, snacks help!

3. Perfection is not the goal

We are not perfect, so there is no reason to expect that of a kid. We all mess up. Someone might get hooked (barbless hooks help with this), the line will get tangled, the knots will not hold, snags will happen, and fish might never bite. Sometimes the best thing about fishing is sharing the stories of never catching a fish, and the funny things that happened along the way. Laughing or shrugging off the mishaps makes coming back, much more likely. 

4. Increase Your Chances for Success

 Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons. 

One of the best ways to make the experience a great one is to use kid-friendly equipment. A full setup on the fly rod might be too much at once for beginners, so using a closed spin cast rod or simpler setups (possibly Tenkara) which are much less intimidating. Yes, this might also include using scented bait or fishing in well-stocked ponds, but fishing with kids is about getting them excited and hopefully want to learn the more advanced stuff later on. Also, if you're right there next to them and you just happen to hook a fish, it's a great opportunity to pass off the rod for them to reel it in.

With kids, the simpler the better. Check out this great write up about teaching kids how to fly fish with kid-friendly Tenkara setups. Who knows, you might even end up liking it too!

CPW Getting Started Fishing Gear (Spincast)

101 Places to take a Kid Fishing In Colorado

5. Take a Break

If there is one thing that anglers and fly fishers are, that is persistent. "One more cast, one more fly combo, one more location" is the drive for many to keep going till the sun goes down. Kids might not share that same enthusiasm from the get go and even though we would all like to at least catch a fish, it's easier to leave before the frustration sets in. There’s always next time!

There are so many great resources out there with ideas and tips on getting young ones outside and on the water. We've listed a few below. Feel free to leave a comment on your best tips and tricks to keep beginners coming back for more! 

Other great reads

Fishing Tips From a Parent - with age groups

Introducing Kids to Flyfishing