Youth Education

Polar Plunge Raises Money for Local Youth

What do an Elementary School Principle, fisherman, third grader, and town Mayor all have in common? Well, in Estes Park, they all braved the icy waters to raise money for Trout in the Classroom!

Colorado Trout Unlimited and our local chapters are proud to support environmental education programs that get kids outdoors and bring unique learning opportunities into the classroom. Trout in the Classroom is one such project. The program works with teachers to raise trout from eggs to fry throughout the school year, providing unique teaching opportunities along the way and culminating in an end-of-year release. Unfortunately, the equipment required to grow fish in a classroom isn’t cheap.

Fortunately, local businesses and leaders in the Estes park community refused to let costs stand in the way of bringing TIC to their school. Led by local resident, Joe Bottoms of Trout Haven Resorts, the town organized a Polar Plunge in the middle of one of the snowiest winters in a decade. Here’s how it went:

Local elementary school Principle, John Bryant, takes the plunge to help raise money for TIC tanks in his school.

Local elementary school Principle, John Bryant, takes the plunge to help raise money for TIC tanks in his school.

Story by: Joe Bottoms

The 2019 Polar Bear Plunge was held at Trout Haven Resorts on March 2 with a great turnout, despite the weather.  The first annual fundraiser was held to start a Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program in the Estes Park Elementary School. Community members and local business teams took the plunge to raise the money for two state-of-the-art aquariums that are now installed in the third grade department. Starting March 12, students will be working with a fisheries biologist to hatch and raise rainbow trout, with in-depth lessons in trout ecology at each life stage. 

 

Third graders were chosen as the beneficiaries of this project because the TIC program aligns with the Colorado Department of Education's third grade standards for learning, but the program is going to grow to other grade levels as well as the middle and high schools as the program evolves. This year, third graders will be learning about the rainbow trout's life cycle, habitat selection, temperature-dependent growth and development,  and general trout ecology. They will also be doing dissections, which is always the favorite lesson. We are partnering with the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition to do a field trip to streams that are scoured and streams that have been restored after the 2013 flood to identify good trout habitat and demonstrate the benefits of freshwater conservation and restoration. 

 

Local students take the plunge!

Local students take the plunge!

The 2019 Polar Bear Plunge raised $5,300, which funded the two aquariums to be used this spring. The remainder is being donated to Trout Unlimited to carry the TIC program forward and expand trout conservation in the Estes Valley. Over 100 people attended, and over sixty took the plunge themselves. Among notable jumpers was the principal of Estes Park Elementary School John Bryant, President of TU's Alpine Anglers (chapter #453) Mike Larned, Mayor Todd Jirsa, and an a number of third grade students excited about their new aquariums!

 

Thanks to all who contributed and participated; we hope to get third graders excited about environmental conservation and that some of them will go on to do great things in the Estes Valley and Rocky Mountain National Park!

Local 3rd Graders make the leap to help raise money for a TIC tank in their classroom!

Local 3rd Graders make the leap to help raise money for a TIC tank in their classroom!

President of Alpine Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Mike Larned, prepares his jump!

President of Alpine Anglers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Mike Larned, prepares his jump!

Meet our new CTU Youth Outreach VISTA staff

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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

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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.

 Requirements:

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.   

 Benefits:

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 (dnickum@tu.org).

Thank you for your interest in this position!

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Rocky Mountain Flycasters Youth Day Camp

By: Dennis Cook, Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter of TU, and Dan Omasta, Colorado TU Many youngsters want - but often lack - opportunities for recreation and fun in the natural outdoors. In 2010, the Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter (RMFC-TU) launched a Youth Day Camp designed to provide this opportunity. The first camp encompassed six full days of fishing, conservation, and classroom sessions in the Fort Collins area, and has been a huge hit every year since. Fifteen high school boys & girls (ages 14 through 17) from the Northern Colorado region are selected based upon their application and a brief essay describing their interests, background, and expectations from attending camp. Most campers typically have zero to very elementary fly fishing knowledge.

Basic fly fishing skills are taught by experienced RMFC members and St. Peters Fly Shop guides, but the camp isn't just about bringing kids outside and helping them catch fish. It provides information and activities that inspire the campers to become more aware of the need to protect and conserve our natural outdoors. Specialized content (such as trout anatomy) is provided by professionals from Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Colorado State University.

A capstone activity encompasses a half-day restoration project on a local stream, designed and supervised by the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers organization. As campers better understand the relationship of trout as an indicator of water quality, they gain appreciation for the need to protect our coldwater streams - while also discovering that fly fishing can become an enjoyable, lifelong pastime.

"My son has gained confidence in his fishing abilities and has taken away a sense of responsibility for our precious river and water resources," said one parent of a recent camper. "I really feel like he has a better understanding that we need to keep our rivers clean and take care of them for generations to come. He’s not taking them as much for granted anymore."

Beyond a nominal $30.00 acceptance fee, funding for camp is provided by generous corporate and individual chapter member support. Additionally, all fishing attire and equipment is provided by RMFC-TU.  Camp activities occur on the Poudre River, Big Thompson River headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, private ponds and Fort Collins Parks. Indoor classes are held in corporate and community conference rooms.

The RMF Youth Fly Fishing Day camp does a great job of teaching kids to fish and how to become successful anglers.  But the six-day event is more than just a fishing clinic - it is a collaborative effort to prepare and inspire the next generation of stewards.

For more information, please visit the Rocky Mountain Flycasters' Youth Camp page.