2012 – 2013 Adopt a Trout

Sponsored by:

Trout Unlimited

Project Champion:

Chad Chorney

What are the appropriate grade levels:

K to 12

Is there a limit to the number of participants:

Currently, there are approximately 40 students from one integrated classroom (4th through 6th grades) scheduled to participate in the AaT program. One class was chosen for the start of the AaT program since there is a limited number of telemetry tags (25)

Is there an opportunity for community service:

Yes – 4 to 8 hours

Is this a new or existing project:

This is a new project.

Estimated project cost:




Trout Unlimited’s (TU) Adopt-a-Trout (AaT) program is a placed-based educational experience catered to elementary school students. AaT programs are focused on engaging students by putting them on the ground; up close and personal with coldwater fish and their habitats. The goal of AaT is to ensure that students become active, involved citizens in their community and future stewards of local resources. AaT keeps the focus and attention of students by emphasizing hands-on, real world learning. AaT programs do this by:

  • Inspiring students’ curiosity and interest in trout, their habitat, and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Partnering students with biologists and resource professionals on research and science projects.
  • Exposing students to future aquatic restoration activities and projects.
  • Providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to have fun fishing.

TU has chosen the Wood River Valley as the location of its first AaT program in Idaho. The program will teach local elementary students how the health of the Wood River Valley relies on a healthy watershed and on one of the most important resources in central Idaho – the Big Wood River.

TU’s AaT program in the Wood River Valley in central Idaho will be modeled after successful AaT programs in the states of Montana and Wyoming. As mentioned, the primary focus of the program will be the Big Wood River. The Big Wood River flows through the heart of Blaine County and is a major economic, social, and recreational resource for country residents and visitors. The Big Wood provides blue-ribbon trout fishing and supports several outfitters and numerous fishing guides. Anglers from all over the country visit Idaho each year to fish the Big Wood, and residents enjoy its many angling opportunities. In addition, the Big Wood is vital to the local agricultural community and provides irrigation water for pasture, alfalfa, and barley throughout the Wood River Valley. Therefore, it is critical that the river continues to thrive in the future, and that local residents continue to be stewards of the resource. The AaT program will foster those stewards and develop them from the heart of Blaine county.

Students will be involved in several field days, the first occurring during the fall of 2012. Adult rainbow trout from the Big Wood will be captured via non-lethal means (electrofishing, netting, etc.) and implanted with radio telemetry tags. Each trout that receives a telemetry tag will be ?adopted? by the students and its movement will be monitored throughout the school year. Fish tracking will be done by TU staff and/or volunteers. Periodically, TU and other project partners will update the students with respect to fish locations and provide a lesson to further their understanding of the resource. These lessons will occur both in the classroom and out in the field. Curriculum includes lessons on trout physiology and life history, habitat needs, habitat and riparian restoration, entomolygy, water quality, GPS and mapping skills, and the importance of connected migratory corridors to the health of fisheries on private and public land. The local community and private landowners will be included in this project to help identify projects and partnerships.

The AaT program will address issues facing the Big Wood River and combine that with an instructional component to educate local elementary students. This will ensure that the Big Wood River will continue to have stewards to protect and improve on the work that is currently underway to protect the fishery and habitat. In addition, fish tagging and tracking will help TU, fish and wildlife agencies, and other conservation organizations understand general movement patterns of fish within the Wood River watershed, document the extent to which movement is inhibited by in-channel structures, and determine the extent to which fish are entrained in irrigation diversions.

Project Images

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