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Santa Rita students establish in-school trout farm

Career and Technical Education is getting a boost at Santa Rita High School. With the help of Trout Unlimited, Santa Rita is receiving a grant to establish an in-school trout farm as a part of Arizona's Trout in the Classroom program.

"We're moving to a project-based learning environment," explained Santa Rita principal James Palacios. "We want to make sure that these kids have a chance at having a first-hand experience on certain projects that relate to agriculture and natural resources."

The program is being spearheaded by teacher Josh Ruddick, who is always looking for ways to unique ways for his students to learn.

"It's a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience with data collection, data monitoring and data analysis relating to the health of these species," Ruddick remarked. "[It] can easily be transferred out into the field in a natural resource environment where they're able to apply what they learned to help conserve those species."

Ruddick also commented on how exciting it was to be one of 18 schools enrolled in the program, and one of just two in the greater Tucson area. The program would not be possible without the help of Trout Unlimited, who purchased the equipment through a grant for the first time since the program's inception by the state. The grant was provided by the Arizona Sportsman for Wildlife Conservation.

"[The conservation] granted us around $22,000 to purchase equipment," said Trout Unlimited Pueblo Chapter President Steve Reiter. "We picked up the equipment on Saturday, and we're going to be here setting it up so that the program can get underway."

According to Ruddick and Palacios, the student response so far has been wonderful.

"The students are very excited… they've done a lot of work to get this thing operational," Ruddick beamed.

Palacios agreed. "[The students and Mr. Ruddick] are very motivated to develop these projects here through our CTE program and our agriculture and natural resource classes here on campus."