Youth Education

Meet our new CTU Youth Outreach VISTA staff


Bianca McGrath-Martinez has joined the Colorado Trout Unlimited team as the new Youth Outreach VISTA staffer to grow our capacity for implementing youth programming across the state.

Bianca graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore county in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, focusing on environment, development and health. She also received a minor in Geography. Prior to joining CTU as their AmeriCorps VISTA, Bianca served with AmeriCorps at an education nonprofit in Compton, California. Bianca’s hobbies include hiking, reading, listening to music, and traveling.

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. Photo credit: CTU/Annie Smith

CTU Youth Outreach Intern, Nicholas Krishnan helps students with attaching their leaders to their fly lines. Photo credit: CTU/Annie Smith

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! Photo credit: CTU/Annie Smith

After a full day of learning and fishing, the students enjoyed wading in to cool off! Photo credit: CTU/Annie Smith

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!

Photo credit: CTU/Annie Smith

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



Youth get outdoors at the river conservation and fly fishing camp


ALMONT, CO – Have you ever wanted to learn more about the lifecycles of aquatic insects? Or new techniques for fly tying and casting? Perhaps you have always wanted to tour a fish hatchery, or learn more about river conservation. Well, sixteen youth had that very opportunity this past month. From June 10 to June 16, teens from across Colorado came together at the Silent Spring Resort in Almont, CO, for the 10th Annual Colorado TU Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp.


Organized by CTU staff and volunteers, the week-long camp offers unique, hands-on opportunities to learn about bugs, hydrology, fly-tying, casting, knots, reading water, and safe wading techniques. This year, campers also enjoyed presentations from outside speakers that included: water law, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, a tour of ranch land near Gothic, CO by the Crested Butte Land Trust, and a walk-through of the Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery. The week was capped off with a willow-planting project on the Gunnison River, some great fishing, and a private screening of the Fly Fishing Film Tour, made possible by Mayfly Media.


In addition to becoming better anglers, these young adults learned the importance of conservation and the impact it has on their favorite waters. Campers also made life-long friends and connected with a whole new watershed. The CTU Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp has now completed a decade of getting youth out on the water and teaching the next generation of anglers. We are proud to see so many students returning year after year as counselors, sharing what they learned and inspiring their peers.

This camp would not be possible without the generous support of our chapters and partners. We would especially like to thank the Silent Spring Resort and staff for your amazing hospitality and great venue, the Colorado Rod Makers Reunion, the CTU River Stewardship Council, the Sharon Lance Youth Fund, and Mayfly Media. You can see more pictures from the camp by visiting:

For more information about the 2019 CTU Youth Conversation and Fly Fishing Camp, please contact Dan Omasta,

Free statewide fishing this weekend!

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dedicating the first weekend of June as free fishing days for everyone. Anyone can fish for free, regardless if they have a fishing license or not. This is a great opportunity to head outside for some fun on our rivers, lakes, or streams across Colorado. If you're a seasoned angler - this would also be a great opportunity to take out a beginner and hopefully get them "hooked". CPW wants all to enjoy getting outside with friends and family this weekend.

All across Colorado's public lands, anyone can drop a line in from June 2-3, 2018. You can read more about the event and access some free resources such as fishing reports or places to take kids fishing here. See if your local state parks have their own events happening near you!

Fishing/River events this weekend (June 2 - June 3):

Flyfishing Demo's with Rocky Mtn Flycasters

Join the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter of Trout Unlimited for ongoing demos of how to fly cast. A little rusty? The gang at TU can help you tune up your casting skills so come by their booth for on demand demos during the Poudre River Fest.

Poudre River Fest

Poudre RiverFest is a free, family-friendly festival that restores, celebrates and educates people about the Cache la Poudre River. Learn about conserving the Poudre River and its resources through kids’ activities. Connect with local groups that work to improve and maintain the health of the river. Volunteer to help with river cleanup and restoration projects in the coming year. Dance to live music. Enjoy beer from New Belgium Brewing Co. and food from local eateries.

Free Get Outdoors Day Colorado Springs - Prospect Lake
Prospect Lake will be lined with families fishing using free poles from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The water will be filled with rafts, canoes and paddleboards. Kids can shoot air rifles and .22s, throw hatchets, learn archery, try the climbing walls, crawl all over our "Touch a Truck" display and much more. Check it out here!

Canyon Lakes Ranger District Kids Free Fishing Fest 

The U.S. Forest ServiceArapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Canyon Lakes Ranger District along with our partners; is hosting a fun, FREE, family, day of fishing at West Lake Day-Use Area. The whole family is invited, but it's geared specifically for kids (15 and under) to learn about the basics of fishing, aquatic and terrestrial biology, and outdoor ethics on the National Forests and other public lands. Our mission that day is to get kids and familys' excited about fishing, the outdoors, recreation, and their public lands #itsallyours. Red Feather Lakes, CO

Evergreen Youth Outdoor Skills Day

Sign up the whole family for the Evergreen Outdoor Skills Day and enjoy time outdoors in beautiful Evergreen. Youth are encouraged to participate in fishing, tying flies, shooting sports, learning about hunter education, macro-invertebrates, Colorado wildlife, and much more.
Prize drawings, free fishing poles, and a free grilled lunch while food and supplies last.
Please register for the whole family, youth and adults. Youth must be accompanied by adults. This is a free event that falls on Free Fishing Weekend. Participants do not need a fishing license to participate. Register here. 

Annual Fishing Derby

This free clinic fishing clinic, sponsored and run by Volunteers from Bennett Fish and Tackle, begins at 9:00 am at Mead Ponds.  8:00-9:00 am FREE clinic 9:00-11:00 am Fishing Derby 11:00-11:30 am Lunch & Prizes It's free and fun for the whole family!  Kids will receive a free fishing pole and anyone over the age of 16 must have a valid Colorado fishing license.  Email Janet Torres ( with any questions. 

Family Fishing Clinic at a High Mountain Lake

Where: CR 37 Jefferson, CO 80456
We will meet at the parking lot at the end of the road. Class will start promptly at 9:00 am, please be respectful of others and arrive on time. All Participants 16 years old and older have to have a valid fishing license. Licenses are not available at the lake. You can buy them on-line or any place that sells fishing equipment. All equipment will be provided or bring your own and we will help you set it up. Please bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and a lunch. The Forest Service also has a $10 per vehicle fee to access Jefferson Lake. Please register for this event here.

38th annual Yampa River Festival

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Charlie's Hole near the Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave. Steamboat Springs Boaters and anglers descend on the Yampa River each spring to achieve greatness in their respective sports. Whether you kayak, raft, tube, canoe, SUP, packraft or float another craft, the Yampa River Festival has something for everyone. Jumping into the water not your thing? There are plenty of opportunities to spectate and support the Yampa River. The festival also features vendors and a beer garden.

Hayden Huck Finn Day 2018

June 2, 2018 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Dry Creek Park, 513 S. Poplar St. Hayden, CO Go back to those childhood memories of reading about Huck Finn's adventures or introduce the stories to your kids by attending the Hayden Huck Finn Day, which includes a Fishing Derby starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Dry Creek Pond. You can fish with your own gear or use gear provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A cornhole tournament will start at 1 p.m. There will be educational stations, awards presented in a Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher look-a-like contest and Learn something new at one of the educational stations and a free hotdog lunch provided by Hayden Parks and Recreation. Contact for more information.

Intro to Fishing Clinic

June 3rd, 2018 9 to 10 a.m. | Stagecoach State Park, 2550 Routt County Road 14 Oak Creek, COThis one is for the kiddos. Not only is the clinic free, but on June 2 and June 3, no fishing permits are required due to Colorado's free fishing weekend. Join park rangers at Keystone Cove to learn the basics of knot tying, casting and safe fish handling. Fishing equipment is provided. Valid park entry permit is required on all vehicles.

Comment below if we missed one! Have a great weekend everyone and tight lines!


60 trout released by Lyons Elementary students

Fifth grade students from Lyons Elementary School released around 60 fry back into the wild in collaboration with the St. Vrain Anglers TU Chapter, Colorado Trout Unlimited, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The release was part of their ongoing  Trout in the Classroom (TIC) Program where students are engaged in trout biology and environmental sciences. Students raised trout from egg to fry - monitoring their growth, tank environment, and life cycle. Along with raising adorable trout, students gain an appreciation for water resources, conservation ethics, and become involved in their local watershed!

Trout Unlimited in Colorado 2017 Annual Report

We are happy to announce that our 2017 Annual Report is live and available for your viewing. Last year was filled with great work across the whole state and the finishing up of many restoration projects and continuing others! Thank you to everyone who supported Trout Unlimited in Colorado last year.

Click here to read the CTU 2017 Annual Report


Trout in the Classroom: The Eggs have Arrived!

Trout in the classroom (TIC) is an environmental education experience that fosters hands-on learning through the rearing of trout from eggs to fry.  The program provides K-12 students meaningful opportunities to apply relative topics taught in the curriculum to the life cycles emerging before them, as well as to the variety of challenges that arise out of maintaining a steady state environment for the growing trout.  A General Overview...

While the Trout in the Classroom program has been adopted on a robust level in many states throughout the U.S., it is just beginning to emerge as a teaching tool for schools here in Colorado.  In 2016, Colorado TU supported five sites around the state.  In 2017, we expect that number to more than double, with TIC programs being adopted by teachers, TU chapters, and their local communities throughout the state.  The sites will range from elementary school classrooms to college science labs and can be found across Colorado –from the suburbs of Aurora, to the Grand Mesa on the Western Slope.

Trout in the Classroom offers a high degree of flexibility for teachers when it comes to applying trout life cycles to the core curriculum.  Lesson plans can be adapted to link learning objectives with “real world” outcomes.

For example, students at a site in Blackhawk, CO routinely help test the water quality of their tank; identifying potential issues (i.e. the water is becoming too acidic), using problem solving skills to propose solutions (add “x amount” of a certain chemical compound), and charting the results over time.  Is the health of the fish or pH improving?

Within any TIC activity, youth find themselves emboldened by opportunities to apply math and science concepts to actual problems, as well as receive the added social benefits of identifying challenges within their environment and taking concerted efforts to solve them.

"I like testing the water to help keep the fish alive," says one of the students in the Blackhawk classroom.

In short, TIC is not just helping to prepare the upcoming wave of engineers and scientists – it is also empowering the next generation of stewards.

To demonstrate the impacts that TIC is having in classrooms around the state, Colorado TU will be following the program in a handful of schools and providing regular updates from the field.

October-November: The Eggs Have Arrived!

At the time of this article (early November), there are currently four classrooms that have eggs in the water and several others that are in the process of setting up their equipment.  Once a site is ready, the rainbow trout eggs are shipped over night from the Ennis National Fish Hatchery in Montana and arrive at the classroom early the next day.  Teachers have been working closely with their students to carefully place the eggs in the tank and some are even starting to see them hatch now!

Profile: 5th Grade Science Class at Gilpin County School, Blackhawk, CO

Student: Avery Ramsey, 5th Grade

"Our trout program in Gilpin is really cool.  It is amazing to watch them grow.  We learned about each stage in a trout’s life, and now we actually get to see it!"

Teacher: Vanessa Grenader

"Trout in the classroom provides hands on, inquiry-based learning.  As a project based teacher, this program fits into my curriculum perfectly.  I am able to engage the students, and integrate the 5th grade science standards into the program seamlessly.  My students feel like real scientists as they learn.  Now, I can’t imagine a school year without our trout!"


For more information on Trout in the Classroom, you can follow the links below, or contact Dan Omasta ( at Colorado TU.

Colorado TU TIC Program

National Trout in the Classroom Project


Silverthorne, TU unveil Blue River Explorer Hike

In partnership with the Town of Silverthorne, the Gore Range Chapter TU in September celebrated the opening of the "Blue River Explorer Hike."  The half-mile hike along the Blue River through the town core of Silverthorne includes multiple interpretive signs highlighting different aspects of the Blue River's ecology, history, and significance in the community. Inspired by the popular "Junior Ranger" program of the National Park Service, the Blue River Explorer Hike program offers a free children's activity booklet and sticker that can be picked up by registering at the Colorado Welcome Center at the Green Village - Outlets of SIlverthorne. The Blue River Explorer Hike is a free, self-guided trail and is open daily. Signs along the trail explain trout biology, watershed management, challenges of water supply in Colorado, and solutions to help mitigate water shortages. Summit County Television produced a brief video about the new trail:

The Gore Range Chapter hopes that the trail will not only help engage and educate youth in Summit County and among its many visitors, but also may inspire others to bring similar educational programs to their home waters. For those that are interested in developing their own Explorer Hike program, Chapter President Greg Hardy can provide all the necessary details based on what the chapter learned in the course of developing the Blue River project (costs, grant opportunities, locally-available fund raising, development material, artist recommendation, etc.)