Youth Education

2019 Summer Youth Camp Video features youth learning about rivers and fly fishing

Greenback and CTU volunteer, Emma Brown, put together a great feature about the 2019 CTU River Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp in Almont, CO. Check out the great video she filmed above!

The River Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp is a week long camp designed to educate 14 to 18 year old students on the importance of cold water conservation and provide hands-on fly fishing instruction. Approximately 20 students are selected each year based on their qualifications and a written essay on why they would like to attend the camp.

Camp classes include: Principles of Ecology, Hydrogeology, Aquatic Vertebrate and Invertebrate Sampling, Hydrology, Trout Behavior, Trout Stream Entomology, The Biology of Pollution, Acid Deposition, and Politics of Conservation and Human Effects on the Rocky Mountain.

In addition, the camp will include hands-on instruction on Fly Tying, Fly Casting, Stream-side Ethics, Angling Literature, Stream-side Botany, Wader Safety and Survival, and The Evolution of an
Angler. The campers will also participate in a watershed project to repair habitat in a nearby stream.

Over 300 trout released in this year's Trout in the Classroom Release!

Trout in the Classroom (TIC) is a conservation-oriented, environmental education program for elementary, middle and high school students. Throughout the school year students raise their trout from egg to fry, monitor tank water quality, engage in stream habitat study, learn to appreciate water resources, grow to understand ecosystems and begin to foster a conservation ethic. At the end of each school year, TIC classrooms release their trout into a state approved stream.

In the state of Colorado, there are 12 schools that take part in this program with a total of 17 tanks. Each program is led by educators dedicated to growing the next generation of environmental stewards.


On May 28th, Vanessa Grenader, a 5th grade teacher from Blackhawk, brought her students to Mayhem Gulch to release their 170 pet rainbow trout. Vanessa was accompanied by volunteers from the West Denver Chapter who talked with the students about water quality. Read more here.

On May 24th, Mike Sanchez’s high school class was joined by Bianca McGrath-Martinez of Colorado Trout Unlimited and Emma Brown of the Greenbacks for a release field trip at the Carson Nature Center in Littleton. The students were able to stock the South Platte with their trout, explore native plant species, and go on a nature walk.

On May 23rd, Todd Johnson set out on his first release field trip accompanied by the Denver Trout Unlimited chapter. Todd’s 3rd graders were able to release 60 trout — most of which have names.

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


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!