Thank you Cabela’s Outdoor Fund for our grant of $1,300 for fishing and archery equipment for our Outdoor High School (now called the Twin Rivers Charter School). Twin Rivers provides a way for Lane County students to earn a full high school diploma through an outdoor oriented curriculum. Last year the school served 30 students, although this year we are up to 45 students enrolled.
Four times a year, the entire school goes on a week-long camping trip, and every other week students spend outside, tackling important conservation projects and participating in field science. This equipment provided so much for the students, to help them grow and develop to be caring, responsible adults.
Fishing. We went fishing on both spring spikes, in May and June, as well as opportunities during field education weeks throughout the year. About 20 students had fishing licenses and fished with us during trips. For the spike camping trips, we spent eight days on the coast, and another five days in central Oregon.
As soon as we entered the field with all the fishing gear, the kids were hooked. Through fishing, students were able to learn and demonstrate properly cast technique, proper bait selection and use of lures, locate prime fish habitat, proper fish identification, how to cast, how to set the drag, how to set the hook, how to reel in fish, and how to land a fish. Many already had experience with fishing, and some even their own gear, but by adding fishing gear to our arsenal of equipment, we broadened the spectrum of learning for every student involved.
The ones with experience suddenly became the experts, even more so than most of their teachers. They got to rise to role of leader helping others understand the technique, rules and etiquette surrounding this ancient art. The ones who had never fished before experienced the thrill of patience paying off; the tug of the pole as one finally lures a fish out of the depths and onto a hook. Once the excitement of the catch had worn off, the anticipation of the meal began to sink in. The students learned how to cleanly kill a fish, and learned the importance and deliciousness of getting back to camp and immediately preparing the catch.
More importantly, we have rarely seen bigger smiles on our student’s faces than catching a fish for the first time, or when helping a friend catch their first fish. Youth learned skills that they can use to begin looking out for themselves.
Archery. The archery materials really hit the mark as teaching tools. We taught two archery electives. There were nine students that participated in archery classes, taught for eight weeks in April and May, five days a week every other week. We also had opportunities for all students to participate in archery a couple times a month during field education weeks, so a total of 30 students participated in archery, nine more intensely.
Once they had caught the bug, we had a group of students who regularly asked to be supervised during lunch so they could shoot more. In addition to our regular classes we scheduled time for students to practice their skills during our field education weeks, which was often a highlight. This time allowed for more experienced students to help teach others, and for all students to get to see improvement in their abilities.
Benefit of Grant Activities. This grant, and these materials may not seem like much to donate to a school, but they have changed lives. They have allowed “city kids” to broaden their horizons and understand the importance and grace of nature. They have taught students how to be leaders and teachers. They have instilled a sense of responsibility and respect for others. They have helped turn students into citizens who care about something. Thank you again for your support.