By Hugh Miller and Becky Fitch
Steelhead are Alive and Well Again at Rogers Middle School! This year Rogers Middle School principal Gary Stebbins has returned to the classroom to teach one period a day. His class, Environmental Studies, consists largely of STEP (Salmon and Trout Education Program) curriculum and activities. He remarked, recently…”With all the budget woes and other challenges facing education, it is nice to spend one period a day with the kids so I can reflect on what it is I am in this business.”
Activities in the class range from the typical STEP studies to more involved field trips and outdoor studies. With funding from the City of San Jose’s Watershed Grant program, Dr Stebbins was able to also participate in several field trips including a Discovery Voyage on San Francisco Bay. “Understanding the important role of the watershed ecosystem is very important to the understanding of the salmon and trout life cycle,” says Stebbins. “My students know more about this subject than most adults.
In addition to the regular activities, guest visits by the San Jose Flycasters have added to the course. Whether it is Ken Kondo tying brightly colored flies with the students or Sue Larson talking about insect life cycles, the Flycasters have become good friends to the students in the class. In addition, a donation of fly fishing equipment to the school and class from the estate of Flycaster Jim Bergland has also added to the thematic teaching model.
Other non-traditional techniques have also been used in the class. “I bring in some of my fishing videos so the kids can take a little fishing trip with me,” he says. Stebbins also brought in a fresh King Salmon caught in Monterey Bay. He cleaned it and identified all the internal organs in class with his students. Then, he barbecued it and made “Salmon Covered Pizza!”
A big event of the year is the release of the tiny Steelhead. The students are very careful to gently take the wriggling young “babies” up until their moment of release. “How can one measure the appreciation and understanding that comes from such a process?” Dr. Stebbins could be heard to say on the banks of the San Lorenzo River….”They learn more on this outing than an entire week of bookwork!”
If you wish to get involved in STEP activities, contact STEP Coordinator Hugh Miller email: HMiller334@aol.com.