Inspiring the next generation to experience the natural world is part of the mission of Collegiate Peaks, the local chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU). Since 1986, TU has taught hundreds of youth about the aquatic environment and fly casting and provided scholarships for students interested in conservation.

A new opportunity to more fully engage young people emerged with Salida schools going to a 4-day week.

Stream Explorers is a program ran jointly by Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CPC-TU) and Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA).

GARNA and Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited are teaming up for another year of Stream Explorers to connect youth to the river in their backyard. This four class program is open to middle school youth who are in 5th through 8th grade. Participants will discover the secret lives of creatures that live in the river, perform aquatic behavior experiments, gain experience with fly casting, and learn to tie their own flies.

Class 1: Intro to Stream Conservation. Investigate aquatic invertebrates through experiments in the classroom and surveying in the Arkansas.
Class 2: Research fish including their anatomy, stressors, and habitat.
Class 3: Fly tying, intro to fly rods, and casting activities
Class 4: Fishing (we will ride a Chaffee Shuttle to our fishing location)

Earn a free fly rod! Students who complete all 4 sessions will have the option of completing activities during and/or after camp to receive a free fly rod!

Stream Explorers in Buena Vista 2019

This activity takes place on 4 dates. Participants must attend all 4 days. Register by May 28. Space is limited.

Thursday, May 30 | 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Friday, May 31| 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Monday, June 3 | 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Tuesday, June 4 | 9:00 am – 2:00 pm (pack a sack lunch)

Meeting Location: Buena Vista Community Center

Cost: FREE – costs are covered by sponsorships and grant funding


Stream Explorers in Salida 2019

September 13 – October 4th

Meeting Location: Rotary Scout Hut – 210 E Sackett Avenue

Cost: FREE – costs are covered by sponsorships and grant funding

(Registration link coming soon!)

Please contact Emily Henderson, GARNA youth coordinator with any questions! or 719-539-5106

Notes from the 2017 program in Salida

Notes and photos from the 2017 sessions:

Information about the 2017 program in Salida

The 2017 sessions in Salida will be on four consecutive Fridays, from 9am to noon, starting April 28. Location: Touber building. Please contact GARNA ( for more information.

Notes from the 2016 program in Salida

Notes and photos from the 2016 sessions:

Notes from the 2015 program

Notes and photos from the 2015 sessions:

Notes from the 2014 program

Notes and photos from the 2014 sessions:

Notes from the 2012 program

Using TU’s Stream Explorers materials and lessons prepared by volunteers, a 3-hour block on Fridays for 5 weeks was scheduled for middle school students. The emphasis was on hands-on learning and science data collection.

In the first 2 weeks youngsters investigated the behavior of aquatic life including insects, shrimp and fish. They explored what life lived in their river, where they lived, their sizes, shapes and how and where they moved. Students did experiments where organisms, including fish, were exposed to hot and cold, light and dark and changes in gravity. Using their recorded data, they were asked to speculate on how seasonal changes in temperature and light might affect the behavior of fish in their river. Then students tied flies imitating the insects in the river.

In week 3 students reviewed their bug lessons and went to the river to learn about “reading” water. Basic instruction was given about fly rods, gear, casting, basic knots, spin casting, and safety, including hook removal techniques. Students practiced fly and spin casting. Youngsters took home activity sheets to identify organisms that live near the river and were charged with finding a fishing related website they found helpful.

Week 4 brought a snowstorm and a cold front. However, the students showed up in 25 degree clear weather. Utilizing the services of the Chaffee County Shuttle, we drove to Mt. Ouray Ponds. Students fished with fly and spinning rods in the lake and river. There were a few bites and 2 fish caught, but students enjoyed the gorgeous day.

In week 5 students studied fish biology, including the similarities between humans and fish. They visited the Fish Hatchery where they learned about fish rearing and observed fish scales and fry under microscopes.

TU invited parents to see their students “graduate” and provided pizza. All participants got Stream Explorer certificates, an Embrace a Stream Hat, t-shirt, and a folder with all kinds of good information to take home. Of 11 students who started, 6 earned Stream Explorer membership with Trout Unlimited by attending 80% of the sessions.

The committee reached its goal of having young people learn about the aquatic world and plans to do additional programming.

So if you fish and know a young person, invite them to come with you next time! This program was free to participants and supported by Collegiate Peaks Chapter’s funds which come from our annual Caddis Festival the first Saturday in May.

Check out the new Stream Explorers site! Launched by the awesome staff at National TU, this site targets those 15 & under, BUT ANYONE new to flyfishing can benefit! Lots of basic on anatomy, entomology, tying, casting, gear, life cycles, etc. If you have a child or grandchild, membership in Stream Explorers would be a nice gift!

For more information, contact Tom at