From canyons to mountains, rivers to lakes, Delta County offers nearly limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Cedaredge High School students are especially fortunate, as many of those outdoor adventures are within walking distance of the school.
During two days set aside for outdoor education last week, they sampled fly fishing, archery, rock climbing, mountain biking, orienteering and more. With the assistance of The Nature Connection, science teacher Kevin Dunbar organized 16 stations, manned by knowledgeable volunteers, to bring the outdoor curriculum to CHS. Groups of students rotated through the stations learning new skills and gaining appreciation for what's literally in their back yard.
The Surface Creek was the site of electrofishing with Melvin Woody, U.S. Forest Service. A short walk down the Surface Creek trail took the kids to a water quality station manned by Hannah Stevens and Reaha Goyetche of the Western Slope Conservation Center. Then, after visiting with representatives from Delta County Search & Rescue, the high schoolers walked down the road to Cedaredge Middle School, where CMS teacher Mike Long harnessed them up for rock climbing. Wildlife, public lands, fish printing, backpacking, mountain biking and map skills were among the other outdoor adventures.
"Many of these kids have never camped; many have never fished," Dunbar said. "Now that they've had an introduction, they'll be more comfortable actually going out and doing it on their own."
Students not only enjoyed a break from the classroom, they also had a break from technology. "Being outside is like having a mental health day," Dunbar said.
Principal Randy Brown said it's also informative for students to see the passion folks from the Black Canyon Anglers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Western Slope Conservation Center have for what they do and for the resources in this area.
Junior Wade Barnard says he's an experienced hunter and fisherman who loves the outdoors. From Delta County Search & Rescue he learned the importance of always carrying the proper gear. "Plan for the worst, hope for the best," he said.
Jacob Chlarson and Seth Belden said they most enjoyed the 40-minute archery session. Both have some experience with archery, but lack the equipment to practice regularly.
"This was just a great opportunity for kids to get outside and see how many options are available to them," Brown said.