Polar Bear Plungers Put Trout in Classrooms


It was 36 degrees, the temperature was dropping, and it was snowing hard. But on March 2d, 60 people plunged through a 7 by 12 foot hole cut through 16 inches of ice into the frigid water at Trout Haven Resorts. Community members—including Mayor Todd Jirsa, Estes Park Elementary School Principal John Bryant, Alpine Anglers President Mike Larned, local business teams, and a number of third graders—took the plunge to raise $5300 to bring TU’s Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program to Estes Park Elementary School. 


TIC is a nation-wide TU environmental education program for middle and high school students. Students raise trout from eggs, monitor water quality, and eventually release the fish into local waters (with Colorado DPW permission and monitoring). The program helps students understand ecosystems and begin to develop a conservation ethic. Third graders were chosen as the beneficiaries of this year’s project because the TIC program aligns with the Colorado Department of Education's third grade standards for learning, but the program will extend to other grade levels as it grows.


In addition to learning about trout life cycles, habitat selection, temperature-dependent growth and development, and general trout ecology, they will dissect a trout and—thanks to our partnership with the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition—make a field trip to streams that are scoured and streams that have been restored after the 2013 flood to identify good trout habitat and understand the benefits of freshwater conservation and restoration. 


The $5300 bought two state-of-the-art aquariums and chillers—which are already installed in classrooms—and provides operating funds for Alpine Anglers to support and grow the program in Estes Park.